It is claimed that the DVLA are making more than £150,000 per week by selling data relating to drivers to private parking firms, according to new figures that have been revealed.
Over the course of the last year, the government run agency is said to have made over £8 million from this practice, a huge increase on the previous years figure of £6.1 million. The rise is being credited to the ever increasing number of private parking companies that are starting to request the information from the DVLa so they are able to chase motorists for fines.
Legally, the agency is allowed to pass on the information held in its database that contains details of 36.5 million vehicles to registered firms, even though the Data Protection Act would normally mean it would have to be kept private.
Simon Williams, a representative from the motoring group the RAC, described the situation as “worrying”. He went on to say “The practices of some of these companies are often called into question and disputed by motorists who feel they have been poorly treated.”
Private parking companies are now operating in areas such as supermarkets, retail parks and hospitals and they are responsible for tracking down car owners in relation to any parking penalty notices. They go about this by requesting the registered names and address from the DVLA database and these requests come at a cost of £2.50 a go
Figures that have been obtained under the Freedom Of Information legislation have shown that the income from giving away the drivers details has increased every single year for nearly a decade.
The DVLA collected £1.3 million during 2007 and 2008, that then increased to £2.9 million three years later, then up to £6.1 million in 2014 and 2015. Last year it reached £8.3 million, meaning that over the last eight years, the practice has made the agency a staggering £31.8 million.
The UK Parking Control Ltd made requests for 16,500 drivers details last December, coming to a total cost of more then £41,000. All the requests were granted and they came just three months after the firm admitted that some of its employees had altered photographic evidence to imposed parking charges unfairly. The companies rights to obtain information about drivers was suspended in October 2015 while the DVLA completed an investigation.
Gary McIlravey, a parking charges specialist from Dundee law firm Lawson, Coull & Duncan said that ‘The parking companies are spending a large amount of money on personal information from the DVLA as an investment because it pays off. It allows them to engage in scare tactics by sending out letters for increasingly higher amounts in the hope that people will pay up.”
A spokesman for the DVLA said that it doesn’t aim to make a profit from the selling of drivers information and that the fees are in place to cover the cost of providing the service. He went on to say “We take our responsibility to protect information extremely seriously and we have robust safeguards in place to ensure data is used correctly. If we become aware of any issues, we will investigate and take swift action where appropriate.”