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Car parking enforcement

Car parking enforcement, or decriminalised parking enforcement (DPE) as it is sometimes called, is the term used in the United Kingdom for civil as opposed to criminal enforcement of car parking regulations.

Car parking enforcement is what civil enforcement officers do on behalf of either:

  • Local authorities
  • Private firms

The Road Traffic Act 1991 (c. 40) provides the framework for dealing with parking contraventions within controlled parking zones (CPZ) that are administered by local councils all over the UK.

The CPZs that fall under the responsibility of local councils are also called yellow routes and they can be recognised by yellow lines marked on the roads with various time plates. Some of the local councils employ parking attendants to enforce their CPZs directly while other local councils contract their on-street parking enforcement to private companies.

The top reason for the change in the law was to see to it that members of the motoring public did not end up with criminal records just because of parking offences. In the United Kingdom legal measures against crime are directed mainly towards the lower sections of the socioeconomic range and motorists tend to be well represented in the higher reaches of the same.

However, do bear in mind that certain parking offences can be enforced by the police with fines and failure to pay the fines can and does lead to:

  • Criminal charges
  • Adding points to driving licences

The kind of parking offences enforced by traffic wardens include parking contraventions committed on red routes which are usually identified with red lines marked on the roads with the appropriate time plates.

Police traffic wardens can enforce parked road vehicles on pedestrian zig-zags/crossings, whether or not committed on red or yellow routes.

Car parking enforcement is faced with rising problems of urban congestion, and also rising demand for on-street parking plus demand for police resources.

Certain police forces take a laid-back approach to parking regulations enforcement and possibly in consequence of this the Road Traffic Act 1991 permitted local authorities to apply for legal power to manage the enforcement of on-street and off-street car parking regulations instead of the police and they get to keep the proceeds.

Therefore, in places where DPE is extant parking offences are not criminal.

Car parking enforcement is impacted by the fact that without DPE, the fixed penalties (which are not fines and the recipients can ask for Court hearings) resulting from parking tickets goes to Fixed Penalty Offices which are attached to local Magistrates' Courts in counties and metropolitan areas and get sent to central government.

With DPE it is the local authority that gets parking enforcement fines and it is intended to finance parking enforcement and local transport.