The Sunday Times Driving Placeholder

Fraud bureau opens file on parking firm’s ticket scam

UKPC admits the deception by some of its parking wardens and is sending cheques to innocent drivers


Parking ticket scam

A PARKING company whose wardens doctored photographic evidence in order to issue tickets has begun refunding motorists who were wrongly charged.

UK Parking Control (UKPC) will learn later this week whether it will in effect be closed down by the trade association to which it belongs. The British Parking Association launched an investigation after motorists complained they had been charged up to £100 even though they had not overstayed in car parks controlled by the company.


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The association will deliver its verdict this week and could expel UKPC. The company has admitted the deception by some of its parking wardens and is sending cheques to innocent drivers who paid when sent bogus charges. Time-stamped photographs were used to allege that motorists had exceeded their parking time limits. Earlier this month the company admitted to The Sunday Times that pictures had been doctored.

Victims of the scam are angry that the company failed to apologise for the deceit. Instead it has sent standard letters expressing regret for “inconvenience”.

Simone Riley-Young, 27, refused to pay a charge she received for parking in Lincoln earlier this year. Her appeal to UKPC was rejected. She co-founded a campaign group, Motorists Against Fraudulent Charges (mafc.org.uk), to highlight the scam. The company cancelled her ticket only after being contacted by The Sunday Times.

“I’m furious,” she said. “They refused my appeal and admitted wrongdoing only when they were exposed. Even then they didn’t have the decency to properly apologise. They wrote the kind of apology a train announcer uses when there is a delay. It’s insulting.”

Last week Jade Beeby from Nottingham received a letter stating she would be refunded the £61.50 she paid after receiving a ticket at a shopping centre car park in Lincoln in May. UKPC’s photo evidence claimed to show her Citroën C1 parked there at 10am, although she was 40 miles away in Nottingham at the time.

UKPC refuses to say how many drivers are being issued refunds, or how many were wrongly issued with tickets, but from the number of complaints it appears there may be dozens, if not hundreds. Since The Sunday Times first reported the story, more drivers have come forward to say they have been unjustly accused of overstaying.

UKPC told this newspaper it had sacked the wardens responsible but did not respond to a request for an interview before we went to press.

The company manages more than 1,600 car parks across Britain, including some at shopping centres and hospitals. Last year it recorded an income of £8.5m.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau is looking into one case of doctored UKPC tickets. If the British Parking Association expels UKPC, the company will be unable to buy the addresses of drivers from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. It will therefore struggle to operate because it will be powerless to pursue drivers if they refuse to pay a parking charge.

 


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