What are the laws in the UK in relation to the legal clamping of cars?

Clamping of cars

When a car has been parked somewhere where it should not have been it will often be the case that the car has been clamped. The clamp placed over the wheel of the car will ensure that the car is unable to be driven and will only be removed upon the payment of a fine.

When will my car be clamped?

The situations on when an individuals’ car will be clamped depends upon whether they have parked on public or private property.

Public Property

Under the Traffic Regulations vehicles which are illegally parked on roads are able to be clamped. The wheel may only be clamped by an approved device and this approved device can only be placed on the car by the police or by any other authorised persons.

Notice fixed to the wheel

A notice will be fixed to the wheel of the vehicle which will provide the details to the owner of the car on how it can be released.  This will usually be in the form of a charge to be paid before the clamp is released.

What happens if I try to get the clamp off the car myself?

It is a criminal offence to interfere with or try and remove a clamp which has been placed on your car by the police or another authorised person.

Private Property

Wheel clamping on private land is treated differently as the police do not have the authority to clamp a car parked on private land. Consequently it is an accepted principle of the Courts in England and Wales that it is lawful for a landowner to clamp anyone who is parked on his land without his authority and permission.  However, there are certain conditions which the owner of the land must adhere to.

What conditions must the owner of the land adhere to?

Wheel clampers used by private landowners must have the appropriate licence issued by the Security Industry Authority (SIA). Licensed wheel clampers should wear that SIA licence where you can see it at all times when they are working. There is also a public register of licences run by the SIA whereby you can check if someone holds a valid SIA licence.

Furthermore the following conditions must be adhered to when lawfully clamping on private property:

  • There must be notices up where you can clearly see them warning that unauthorised vehicles will be clamped

  • The landowner does not charge more than a reasonable fee to unclamp your vehicle

  • Your vehicle is released as soon as you have said that you will pay the release fee

  • There is a way for you to get in touch with the landowner – or their agent – to make arrangements to pay the fee such as a telephone number

What happens if a licensed clamper clamps my vehicle?

If a licensed clamper clamps your vehicle on private property then you will be required to pay a fine before your vehicle is released.

Are there any circumstances when a licensed clamper cannot clamp a vehicle on private property?

It is a requirement under the SIA licensing scheme that a licensed clamper cannot clamp a vehicle in the following situations:

  • The vehicle displays a valid disabled badge

  • The vehicle is marked an emergency service vehicle attending an emergency

What happens if an unlicensed clamper clamps my vehicle?

If an unlicensed clamper clamps your vehicle then they will be committing a criminal offence. Furthermore it is also a criminal offence for anyone to employ the services of an unlicensed wheel clamper.

Information which must be provided by the wheel clamper when you pay to have your car released

A wheel clamper clamping your vehicle on private land must provide you with the following information when releasing your vehicle after payment:

  • The place where the vehicle was clamped

  • Their name and signature

  • Their SIA licence number

  • The date

In Scotland the use of wheel clamping is a criminal offence, however the use of clamping remains legal in the rest of the country.