UK Parking Control

NJA Metson made this Freedom of Information request to Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency,

Ref:- Rupert Williams and UK Parking Control

(Rupert Williams and his Private Parking Company called UK Parking Control are members of the British Parking Association and have signed an undertaking to comply with the BPA Code of Practice).

1) Can you confirm that the DVLA has made an arbitrary decision that membership of the BPA automatically fulfils the "Reasonable Cause" safeguard.

(Since Rupert Williams and UK Parking Control were committed to stand trial at Hull Crown (trial date 5th September 2011) for criminal breaches of consumer trading laws in respect of their business operations

http://www.thisishullandeastriding.co.uk...)

2) Can you tell me how many requests for Registered Keeper details you have processed for UK Parking Control since 14th December 2010.

Yours faithfully,

NJA Metson

Gary Hammet, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

Dear Mr Metson

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request of 19 March which has been dealt with as business as usual.

You asked:

1) Can you confirm that the DVLA has made an arbitrary decision that membership of the BPA automatically fulfils the reasonable cause safeguard.

This is not the case. All applications for data from the vehicle register have to demonstrate reasonable cause and comply with the Data Protection Act. If this is not the case then the request is rejected, regardless of whether the requester is a member of the BPA or not.

The requirement for BPA membership is just one of the safeguards in place and is over and above the need to demonstrate reasonable cause. This was introduced to ensure that data is only disclosed to legitimate companies who treat the motorist fairly.

2) Can you tell me how many requests for registered keeper details you have processed for UK Parking Control since 14th December 2010.

A total of 6982 requests were made between December and March 2011.

I hope this information is of assistance

Regards

Gary

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Dear Gary Hammet,

I have a letter from the DVLA dated 31st January 2011 from the manager of the Vehicles Record Enquiries Security department in which he states (quote) "We have been advised that requests from private parking enforcement companies are considered to meet the "reasonable cause" criteria"

Can you clarify for me please, are you telling me what is supposed to happen whereas he is telling me (as the guy at the coal face so to speak) what actually happens in practice.

I know that the DVLA processed 997,549 requests from Private Parking Companies alone in the year to Jan 2010 which (even if this were spread over 365 days) would be in excess of 2,700 PER DAY

Could you explain how those "safeguards" (including the critical "reasonable cause" safety net) are applied against that massive volume of data.

Finally, [potentially defamatory material redacted] ?

Yours sincerely,

NJA Metson

Gary Hammet, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

Dear Mr Metson

Thank you for your email regarding the safeguards that are in place relating to the release of data from the DVLA's vehicle records to private car parking companies.

Private companies can request information via two different channels. Firstly there is the paper based route - Companies who request information via the paper based channel have to provide details of their business, outlining their operations, and provide details of why they want the information they have requested and how it will be used. They also have to provide the necessary evidence to corroborate their request and to confirm that a parking charge scheme is in operation.

DVLA considers each of these requests on their merits, considering the circumstances leading to the request and the supporting documentation provided. Companies are required to provide additional information in order to demonstrate they are a bona fide organisation. This includes:
• Details of VAT number (where applicable)
• Details of Companies House registration number
• Reason for requesting keeper details
• Data Protection Registration number
• List of company directors
• Details of ATA membership or statutory regulator

Secondly some private companies request information via a secure electronic link, under strict terms of agreement that outline when information may be requested and how it must be stored etc.

All organisations must firstly complete a successful six-month probationary period, where all requests are submitted via the paper-based channel, before an electronic link will be granted. During this time their behaviour in the use of the information is closely monitored.

It is also a requirement that all private car parking companies must be a member of a DVLA Accredited Trade Association (ATA) and be bound by its code of practice. The ATA for the car parking industry is the British Parking Association (BPA).

The role of the ATA is to promote industry self-regulation, by denying access to those who do not operate to agreed standards. Compliance with the ATA’s code of practice is compulsory for all car parking companies if they wish to request DVLA data. It is the responsibility of the ATA to demonstrate that it enforces compliance with the code. If the ATA does not properly enforce the code of practice then it can lose its ATA status and all members will lose their ability to request DVLA data.

The Agency is committed to a program of audits for data users. Audits are undertaken by DVLA Internal Audit staff with extra targeted auditing where we have particular concerns about a company. Audit is a fundamental part of the assurance process for the links to continue and is built into every contract issued.

With regard to UK Parking Control, the Agency is aware of the allegations made against the company and have contacted Trading Standards to establish the basis of their case but they are unable to release any details in lieu of the court case in September. As no charges have been proven against the company, and the Agency has been unable to obtain any specific detail about the seriousness of the allegations, the Agency has no grounds to cease releasing information to them. The Agency will however closely monitor the situation in the meantime and review the position should any evidence of any inappropriate behaviour become available.

Regards

Gary

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Dear Gary Hammet,

Thanks Gary,

Two things

Firstly can you please explain the two conflicting answers I've received from yourself and the manager of the Vehicle Record Enquiries Security Department (as requested)......a direct and simple answer please.

Secondly, in your final paragraph you state that (quote) "As no charges have been proven against the company"

Question:- I would be grateful if you would therefore refer me to the DVLA policy or other guidance which indicates that such "complaints" have to be proven to the criminal standard?

Question:- You say "The Agency has been unable to obtain any specific detail about the seriousness of the allegations". If you were able to obtain the specific detail of the allegations and they were sufficiently serious would you then refuse access?

Question:- Can you please provide some specific examples of the type of complaints or behaviour that would result in a PPC being refused access?

Thanks

Yours sincerely,

NJA Metson

Dear Gary Hammet,

On Wednesday 2nd March 2011 a PPC by the name of Observices Parking Consultancy (OPC) and it's director Mr Douglas Harris appeared at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court. Mr Harris pleaded guilty to 13 offences and OPC pleaded guilty to 23 offences. All of the offences were in relation to their activities as a PPC. They are due to be sentenced this afternoon.

I notice that even today they are still listed on the BPA website as a member of the AOS.

Question:- What action has the BPA taken in respect of this member since a) having been 'charged' and b) having been convicted (on 2nd March 2011)

Question:- What action has the DVLA taken in respect of access by OPC to RK details since 2nd March 2011

Question:- Since 2nd March 2011 how many RK requests have been processed by the DVLA for OPC under Reg 27(1)

Yours sincerely,

NJA Metson

Alex Skene left an annotation ()

We have removed some potentially defamatory material from this FOI request webpage in line with our policy.

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/reque...

Regards
Alex - WhatDoTheyKnow volunteer

Dear Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency,

You have failed to respond to answer these requests within the 20 days permitted.

http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/l...

Yours faithfully,

NJA Metson

Gary Hammet, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

Dear Mr Metson

Thank you for your email of 21 April to Kevin Watts regarding the release
of information to Observices Parking Consultancy (OPC).

You requested a response, by the end of the week, regarding the number of
registered keeper details which the DVLA processed to OPC after the date
of the conviction. I apologise that this question was not answered in
previous correspondence.

I can confirm that 10 keeper details were released to OPC on 3 March for
alleged parking contraventions, this information was released before the
Agency was made aware of their conviction. The Agency suspended the
release of information to OPC on 4 March as soon as the conviction was
known and no further details have since been released to OPC in connection
with alleged parking contraventions. Information was however released in 3
cases on 29 March in connection with abandoned vehicles, which were
unrelated to the issue of parking charge notices.

The remainder of the points you have raised to Mr Watts will be responded
to in due course.

I hope this information is useful.

Gary Hammett

Corporate Affairs Directorate

DVLA

01792 384562

Apply, update, renew or replace your driving licence online at
[1]www.direct.gov.uk/drivinglicence

DVLA Personalised Registrations - which one would you choose? Search
online at [2]www.dvlaregistrations.direct.gov.uk

Tax your vehicle online at [3]www.direct.gov.uk/taxdisc

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Dear Gary Hammet,

Thank you very much for the information, it is appreciated.

I will look forward to receiving Mr Watts response in due course.

Yours sincerely,

NJA Metson

Dear Gary Hammet,

1) Can you confirm whether or not OPC are still suspended from access to the DVLA records?

2) If they have had access restored, on what date?

3) If they have access restored is this electronic or manual?

4) If they have access restored, why?

5) What disciplinary action has the BPA/DVLA taken against OPC.

6) Has OPC been retrospectively provided with Registered Keeper data from the DVLA for alleged parking infringements committed during the period of the DVLA data access suspension.

I would be grateful if you could answer each point, separately and concisely please.

Yours sincerely,

NJA Metson

Gary Hammet, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

Dear Mr Metson

This is just a short note to let you know that following your emails to
Robert Toft, Kevin Watts (copied to Simon Tse) and myself, the Agency will
respond in due course with an amalgamated response rather than by
separate emails.

Regards

Gary Hammett

Corporate Affairs Directorate

DVLA

01792 384562

Apply, update, renew or replace your driving licence online at
[1]www.direct.gov.uk/drivinglicence

DVLA Personalised Registrations - which one would you choose? Search
online at [2]www.dvlaregistrations.direct.gov.uk

Tax your vehicle online at [3]www.direct.gov.uk/taxdisc

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Dear Gary Hammet,

An amalgamated response is definitely neither what I want nor is it appropriate in the circumstances (and it is for these reasons that I have kept the two matters totally separate)

I would be grateful therefore if the specific questions (posted here) can be answered simply and concisely in number order as I have requested.

Also, I am aware that there are a number of other interested parties who are following this request with interest and therefore the responses to these specific questions need to be posted on this web page.

Yours sincerely,

NJA Metson

Gary Hammet, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

Dear Mr Metson

Thank you for your email of 24 May regarding the release of information to OPC.

I will provide specific answers to your questions -

1. I can confirm that OPC are no longer suspended from receiving DVLA data.

2. Access was restored on 20 April 2011

3. Both electronic and manual access was restored.

4. Access was re-instated on 20th April 2011. This was following an investigation by the British Parking Association (BPA) concerning OPC's compliance with the code of practice and confirmation from the BPA that issues raised by Trading Standards had been addressed.

5. OPC's reinstatement is probationary for three months, during which time the company will be subject to a higher level of scrutiny by both BPA and DVLA. The DVLA and the BPA conducted a joint audit of OPC on 17 May. The DVLA does not regulate car parking companies and has no role to play in administrating "disciplinary action". When companies or individuals are found to have broken the law, sentencing is a matter for the courts.

6. I can confirm that OPC has been provided with retrospective data for alleged parking infringements during their period of suspension. Whilst the Agency suspended OPC’s access to information for the above period of time, the Agency has no influence over the validity of the Parking Charge Notices that were issued either before, during or after the suspension period. Only a Court can decide upon such matters. Information was provided on the basis that all requirements to legally access this data were met and that OPC had been found to be compliant with the BPA Code of Practice.

Regards

Gary

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Dear Gary Hammet,

Clarification required as follows:-

Question/answer 5)

a) Precisely what does "a higher level of scrutiny" by the DVLA entail, please provide details of the action plan that you (the DVLA) have implemented.
b) What disciplinary action has the BPA taken against OPC.
b) Whilst sentencing is a matter for the courts, OPCs criminal offences/convictions originated from the misuse of RK data sold to them by the DVLA what action are the DVLA taking over that misuse of RK data?

Question/answer 6)

a) On what precise date did OPC request the retrospective RK data from the DVLA?
b) How was this retrospective RK data sourced from the DVLA, manual or electronic?
c) Did the DVLA know in advance that OPC were would be applying for this retrospective RK data?
d) Did the DVLA agree in advance that OPC could have this retrospective RK data?
e) How many RK details were retrospectively provided to OPC from during the period of the ban?

The following is a new question

7. The six questions that I asked (above) were based on anonymous information that I had received, and that information has so far proved to be 100% accurate.

I'd now like to explore the following:-
Despite being banned from accessing DVLA data (1) OPC remained as the PPC to manage the parking at the Retail Park and (2) OPC also continued to harvest details of "offending" vehicles using CCTV/ANPR during the DVLA RK data ban.

Can you therefore answer the following:-

OPC apparently were made aware that;

a) The ban from the DVLA was only a temporary blip
b) That they wouldn't be disbarred from the BPA AOS
c) That they would be able to retrospectively apply for RK data.
d) And that they were aware of all of this before the joint audit carried out on 17th May.

7.(1) I would be grateful if you could explain whether or not the BPA/DVLA (officially or otherwise) did indeed provide such (or similar) assurances to OPC in advance of the joint audit?
7.(2) If such assurances were given, on what basis?
7.(3) If such assurances were given, who specifically gave those assurances?

Yours sincerely,

NJA Metson

Gary Hammet, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

Dear Mr Metson

Thank you for your email of 1 June. Please see the answers to your questions below -

5a - OPC’s access to DVLA data was re-instated on the strict understanding that they would be required to complete a three month probation. The DVLA and BPA have audited the company to ensure compliance with the BPA code of practice and to ensure that data has been requested lawfully and appropriately.

5b - DVLA is content that the BPA took the necessary enforcement action in relation to this case. The sanction points system was employed and BPA audited OPC as part of the condition of the 3 month probation period.

5c - DVLA does not sell data for these purposes, it is provided under statute and a fee is charged to cover administrative costs so that they are paid for by the applicant rather than the motoring public. As soon as DVLA became aware of their conviction, OPC’s access to DVLA data was suspended and only re-instated following reassurances from the BPA that they were compliant with the Code of Practice. The DVLA does not regulate car parking companies and has no role to play in administrating "disciplinary action". When companies or individuals are found to have broken the law, sentencing is a matter for the courts.

6a - The data was requested following their re-instatement on 20th April 2011.

6b - Electronic

6c - DVLA was not given prior notice that retrospective data would be requested. However, OPC was entitled to apply for data for these alleged contraventions as they met the reasonable cause criteria. No decision regarding the future release of data was made prior to OPC’s suspension.

6d - No agreement was required as requests of this type are covered by their contract for electronic access.

6e - Approximately 1100 registered keeper details were released to OPC for their period of suspension. Whilst the Agency temporarily suspended OPC's access to information we could have no influence on whether they could continue operating as a parking enforcement company. As investigations made during the suspension period found that the company had been compliant with the Code of Practice, enquiries made for the suspension period were processed accordingly.

7 (1,2 and 3) - DVLA did not make these kinds of assurances to OCP, either officially or unofficially, and as far as we are aware no such assurances were made to OCP by the BPA or any other party.

Regards

Gary

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Dear Gary Hammet,

I have to be honest, I have been extremely impressed with amount of time and effort that you have taken to explain how much under the spotlight OPC are since their ban was lifted. It is very reassuring to be told that both the BPA and the DVLA are closely monitoring OPC to ensure compliance with the BPA CoP.

I would however be grateful if you could clarify one small matter for me please (as follows)

Question/answer 6e

How many details of Registered Keepers were retrospectively provided to OPC for alleged parking contraventions which actually occurred between the 4th of March and the 23rd March inclusive.

Yours sincerely,

NJA Metson

Gary Hammet, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

Dear Mr Metson

Thank you for your e-mail of 2 June. I can confirm that 1120 registered keeper details were released to OPC for alleged parking contraventions which took place during their period of suspension.

Regards

Gary

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Dear Gary Hammet,

This is not the information that I requested.

You appear to be having some difficulty understanding my request. So I shall try and make it even simpler for you and see if that helps.

I don't want to know the TOTAL number of data releases that were retrospectively made for the period of the ban

The specific information that I require is the TOTAL number of data releases retrospectively made for alleged parking contraventions that occurred
between the dates of 4th of March and the 23rd March inclusive.

In other words, out of that grand total of 1120 retrospective RK data releases how many were for "offences" alleged to have been committed ON AND BETWEEN the 4th March to 23rd March inclusive?

I hope this makes things a bit clearer for you

Yours sincerely,

NJA Metson

Gary Hammet, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

Dear Mr Metson

Please accept my sincere apologies for misreading your previous request.

I can confirm that OPC have made 118 retrospective requests for data in connection with alleged parking contraventions that occurred between the 4th of March and the 23rd March inclusive.

I hope this information is helpful.

Regards

Gary

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Dear Gary Hammet,

The BPA CoP relating to the 28 day deadline is specified in Para B 9.2 (page 16) as follows (quote)

"To give driver's early notice of your claim you should apply to the DVLA for keeper details promptly, The target time to apply to the DVLA for keeper details is no more than 14 days after the unauthorised parking event. You must apply no more than 28 days after the unauthorised parking event"

All of those 118 RK data requests were made outside of the stipulated maximum time limit of 28 days and therefore in in a clear and blatant breach of the BPA CoP.

It follows therefore that "reasonable cause" cannot possibly be demonstrated for each of those 118 RK electronic data requests.

For all of the DVLA's public assurances of placing OPC under stricter and tighter scrutiny, the DVLA failed immediately on the very day that OPC had access restored in that the DVLA unlawfully processed the personal data of all 118 people.

This is not about disputed parking tickets this is about the organisational inability of the DVLA to supervise and control the release of personal data.

It goes without saying that OPC should now have all access to the DVLA RK data permanently withdrawn for making those 118 unlawful data requests.

OPC is however, only one half of the problem.

Questions

1) Does DVLA accept that the personal data of 118 data subjects was unlawfully disclosed?

2) If not, why not?

Yours sincerely,

NJA Metson

Gary Hammet, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

Dear Mr Metson

The section of the code that you have referred to covers the issue of Parking Charge Notices (PCN's) where alleged parking contraventions have been identified via ANPR equipment and the tickets are issued by post. This section does not apply to instances where vehicles have been manually ticketed (by means of placing the PCN's on vehicle windscreens) and where the company may only apply for DVLA data after the time allowed (most commonly 28 days) for payment of the charge has elapsed.

DVLA have conducted an audit of OPC and it was found that all of the requests that they had made over the 28 day period were in relation to vehicles that had been manually ticketed. Therefore, they had reasonable cause to request the data in these circumstances and data was lawfully released.

I hope this clarifies the Agency's position.

Regards

Gary

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Dear Gary Hammet,

Thank you very much for the information, I can confirm that the information that you have provided answers and concludes my FOI request.

Yours sincerely,

NJA Metson