In 2013, there were 2.2 million electronic requests from such companies rising to 3.6 million in 2015. Firms then contact those they claim committed offences such as staying to long, then send out fines via the post.
Data should only be shared when ‘absolutely necessary’The Labour Party is concerned that motorists are excessively penalised. Shadow Transport Secretary, Lilian Greenwood, says: “It is vital that the DVLA and ministers make sure that personal information is only shared where it is absolutely necessary and that ordinary car owners are not being fleeced by parking companies”.
She adds: “These figures reveal an extremely worrying increase in the number of requests for drivers’ personal information. They will add to concerns that there has been a huge rise in the number of parking tickets issued in recent years, which will come as no surprise to people who have already been stung by hidden or unclear parking penalties”.
DVLA data can be requested for a variety of reasons
But it is not just parking firms that request personal data; anyone can. There must, however, be “reasonable cause”. Examples include:
- finding out who was responsible for an accident,
- tracing the owner of an abandoned vehicle,
- tracing the owner of a vehicle illegally parked on private land,
- tracing people responsible for driving off without paying for goods and services,
- tracing vehicle owners suspected of insurance fraud.
Motorists can ask for:
- details of a vehicle’s registered keeper,
- information about previous keepers for a vehicle now registered in your name,
- information DVLA holds about you.
DVLA not permitted to profitTotal requests – including those from private parking firms – rose from 2.9 million in 2009/10, to 6.3 million in 2014/15. The DVLA charges for such information but theoretically only to cover processing costs such as staff, computer equipment, etc. In 2009/10 it charged £9.4 million – rising to £15 million throughout 2014/15.
Transport Minister Andrew Jones said in a written response to a parliamentary question: “It is important to note that although the DVLA is permitted to charge a fee for the release of information, it is not permitted to profit from it.”
“Fees are set to recover the related administrative costs for the different types of requests for information and the fee levels are regularly reviewed as the cost base changes over time. This means that it is the applicant and not the taxpayer who funds this activity.”
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