ROGUE PARKING wardens have been caught doctoring photographic evidence so they could issue innocent motorists with £100 tickets.
Attendants working for one of Britain’s biggest private parking companies were able to exploit a loophole in the firm’s software and alter the time-stamp on pictures. The scam involved taking two pictures of a parked car but winding the clock back — by two hours in some cases — on one of them to make it appear as if the vehicle had arrived much earlier. The two photos were then submitted as evidence that the driver had overstayed, and a bogus parking fine was issued.
The scam, carried out in private car parks run by UK Parking Control (UKPC), came to light last week when Alex Shipp highlighted several cases on his website, which offers parking advice to drivers.
One case was that of Neil Horton, 61, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, who stopped off at a branch of Lidl in the town on July 2. Drivers are allowed to park there for an hour and a half, but when he returned to the car 15 minutes later he said that he found a ticket on the windscreen, issued by UKPC.
After appealing, Horton was sent photos of his alleged contravention. The first claimed to show his Vauxhall Corsa at 9.40am, surrounded by several cars. One has its boot open and the driver is loading it up. A second photo, said to have been taken at 11.37am, shows exactly the same scene — including the car with its boot open, still being loaded.
“Were they really suggesting that someone spent two hours loading up their car?” said Horton. “It’s a joke. I didn’t even get to the car park until after 11am.”
Matt Treacy, 27, a web developer, received a ticket for staying longer than the permitted two hours at a UKPC-run car park in Lincoln. He said that he had parked for just over an hour.
Another driver, Simone Riley-Young, 27, who received a ticket in the same car park, said that she was shown a photo with a 7.15am stamp — a time when she was still in bed.
“This seems to have been widespread,” said Shipp. “These cases provide the first evidence of time-stamps being altered, but who knows whether it has happened before. The problem is that it’s very difficult to prove that you were not in a car park.”
The British Parking Association, a trade body, is investigating the fraud, but after being confronted by The Sunday Times, UKPC admitted that the scam had been taking place. It said it had sacked the staff responsible.
“UKPC have been made aware of this incident and it has been fully investigated,” it said. “This is obviously completely contrary to UKPC’s operating procedure and the staff implicated and then investigated are no longer working for UKPC. The company’s software has been reviewed and updated to close the loophole.”