End of the Road for Cowboy Clampers

Clamping on private land to be outlawed

It's the end of the road for cowboy clampers

17 August 2010

From the President's Blog

AA President Edmund King

  AA Clamping Victory

In mid August whilst taking a family holiday in Crete I heard that at long last the Government had announced it was to outlaw clamping on private land. Yes, I know I was on holiday but I did manage to climb a hill in the sweltering heat to find reception on my Blackberry and blast off a comment to the Press Association.

This campaign had become a personal crusade for me over the last decade. Hence I announced that an outright ban on wheel clamping on private land was a victory for "justice and common sense". This got picked up across the media along side my colleague's briefing that this was "a momentous decision to prepare new legislation to end this scourge that has blighted the name of parking control in private parking areas for so long."

We have been campaigning for a ban against this legalised mugging for many years. Too many clampers have been acting like modern day highwaymen for too long. Many elderly and vulnerable people have been ripped off by these callous cowboys. Clamping has been banned in Scotland since 1991 without problems.

I have advised numerous people over the years about what to do when clamped. There seemed to be a spate of Friday nights when I would get calls from pensioners who had been clamped.

Read the President's Blog »

The AA has campaigned on private wheel clamping for 25 years and, to date, no effective solution has been found to stop the gross excesses of the cowboy clampers.

In May 2005, the Security Industry Authority (SIA) started licensing individuals who clamp and remove vehicles from private land.

Unfortunately however, licensing may have actually strengthened the hand of the bad clampers who interpreted the licence as one to print money.

Excesses have worsened in the last few years, including a recent case of a clamper demanding £1200 and, just a few days ago, one demanded £3865. These sums are not about parking control, but extortion, blackmail and a form of theft.

In a civilised society, this is unacceptable.


"Clamping and vehicle removal are draconian punishments which have caused misery to tens of thousands of motorists for decades – for what are often minor mistakes," says Paul Watters, head of AA Public Affairs.

"It is a momentous decision to prepare new legislation to end this scourge that has blighted the name of parking control in private parking areas for so long."

"All authorities must now work to make this work in practice so that cowboy enforcers know they will be caught and prosecuted."


We are however concerned that these cowboy enforcers will move on to issue parking tickets – an area which remains unregulated.

There must be an independent and enforceable code of practice for ticketing and a right of independent appeal.

More about clamping on private land

AA concerns to be raised in Parliament (June 2010) »

Just in time – new law calls time on highwaymen clampers (April 2010) »

Compulsory licensing of clamping businesses (November 2009) »

Wheel clamping on private land – AA advice to motorists »

Join the discussion about cowboy clampers in the zone


7 September 2010