Following criticism that rogue parking and clamping firms could easily access the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s database and use it to issue bogus fines, the Department for Transport (DfT) is offering the industry the chance to have its say on how the information should be available and who should be able to see it.
At present, the system allows anyone with ‘reasonable cause’ to access the database and request, for a £2.50 fee, the name, address and details of the registered keeper of a vehicle. However, critics claim the process that judges whether there is reasonable cause is almost non-existent, leading to potentially huge misuse of the system.
Launching the consultation, Roads Minister Stephen Ladyman said: ‘We think it is important to protect privacy and confidentiality and I understand why many people have serious concerns about the kinds of organisations that receive information from the vehicle register.
‘The rules were put in place a long time ago, but the time is now right to look again at whether these rules are right for today’s circumstances.
‘We want a system that protects people from misuse of their personal details, but that enables organisations and individuals with a good reason to identify the keeper of a vehicle to do so.’ Fleet managers’ association Acfo has been lobbying the DVLA and DfT to tighten up its rules.
Director Stewart Whyte said: ‘Any legitimate organisation should be able to get vehicle details for legitimate purposes.
‘But at the moment, anybody can set themselves up as a parking or clamping firm, send a cheque and get hold of vehicle details.’
With the registered keeper of a company car often not the actual user – such as a leasing firm – dishonest parking companies can prey on the confusion, sending penalty notices which are then paid before the driver can dispute them.
The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association has also welcomed the move.