Private property parking
There is a distinction between private property parking and public sector parking in the United Kingdom. The public sector is the domain of central and local government and the law gives certain privileges to the State and the local authorities.
To some extent this must be due to the assumption that public welfare requirements take a higher priority to the interests of private individuals and private groups; a registered company, for example, represents the interests of certain vested individuals such as the shareholders, the staff and the customers.
All countries reserve certain functions to government, be it central or local. For example, the countries that still use the death penalty insist that only government can carry this out. Stateside, individual states can do such things (the State of Texas and its controversial use of capital punishment) and if any private person or non-governmental group does this the law requires that they face courtroom judgement.
Here in the United Kingdom there is a powerful strand of the law that underlines the sacredness of private property. "The Englishman's home is his castle" has many echoes in land law and the law of property and landlord and tenant law.
Nevertheless, there are restrictions of relevance to private property parking. The mantraps for "catching" trespassers of past centuries are thankfully now illegal. Even on private property proprietors are simply not permitted to arrange punishments for even intruders. In one celebrated case, a man had a portable radio stolen from his house; being enraged, he put another radio wired to an explosive device in its place later. A thief entered his house and lost a hand as a result of moving the radio. The trap-setter received a conviction and a criminal record.
In England and Wales for many years during the late unlamented 20th century jealous landowners could legally use the following two deterrents with private property parking that doubled up as "punishments:"
- Use of the wheel clamp
- Use of the power to tow vehicles away
To the chagrin of so many property owners the far-ranging Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 puts paid to both these deterrents on private land. For one thing, the motoring public hated both the clamp and the tow. For another, it is against several legal principles that that underpin the countries of the Western world that one private can legally "punish" another private individual. Punishment in the West is reserved to the State.
Section 54 of the aforementioned Act forbids clamping and towing away on and from private land. From 1 October 2012 both those activities are offences punishable by the law by fines.
What is the landowner to do?
There is one answer to private property parking problems in the form of Internet based digital photography. The Flashpark company innovated such a system even before the passing of the Act and it has thus far proved to be a brilliant success. That company is licensed to use the UK's Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency's (a government agency) register to discover the "registered keepers" of offending vehicles and charges the same. These are not fines.
Interested readers are pleased to learn that there are no patents actual or pending on this way of parking control.
Experts think that this method will find many imitators around the planet, especially as there are no royalties to pay to Flashpark, or anything else.