Decriminalised parking enforcement

Decriminalised parking enforcement (DPE) is the name given in the United Kingdom to the civil enforcement of car parking regulations, carried out by civil enforcement officers, operating on behalf of a local authority. The Road Traffic Act 1991 (c. 40) provided for the decriminalisation of parking-related contraventions committed within controlled parking zones (CPZ) administered by local councils across the UK. The CPZs under the control of the local councils are also referred to as yellow routes and they can be easily identified with yellow lines marked on the roads with relevant time plates. Councils employ parking attendants to enforce their CPZs directly.

The chief rationale behind this provision within the Act was, amongst other reasons, to make sure people didn't end up being criminalised for car parking offences, like one may potentially become with some driving offences. However, some parking offences can still be enforced by the police with fines, failure to comply with which could lead to criminal proceedings and even the adding of points on the driving licence of the offender. Such parking offences enforced by police traffic wardens are parking contraventions committed in red routes (red routes are usually identified with red lines marked on the roads with the relevant time plates). Police traffic wardens can also enforce parked vehicles on pedestrian zig-zags/crossings, whether committed on red or yellow routes.

Trafic warden camden
Vehicle clamping
MINI loaded onto tow truck
Vehicle removal


With increasing problems of town centre congestion, and demand for on-street parking, coupled with the pressures on police resources, and the low priority given by some police forces to the enforcement of parking regulations, the Road Traffic Act 1991 permitted local authorities to apply for the legal powers to take over the enforcement of on-street, as well as off-street, car parking regulations from the police, in return they would be allowed to keep the proceeds. Thus in areas where DPE has been granted, parking offences cease to be criminal offences.

Without DPE, fixed penalties (not fines, because the recipient can exercise their right to a Court hearing instead) from the issue of parking tickets by the police is collected by Fixed Penalty Offices (each of which is part of a local Magistrates' Court in each county or metropolitan area) and passed directly to central government. With DPE in place, the local authority retains the income generated from parking penalties to finance parking enforcement and certain other activities such as local transport measures. Local authorities have been able to charge for on-street parking since 1958, but without the effective enforcement provided by DPE, such charging was of limited effect. Local authorities adopting DPE generally employ contractors to run their scheme.

The powers granted by DPE to deal with parking offences include:

  • The issue of a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) - a parking penalty which can be paid or contested by appeal (see below)
  • The immobilisation of the vehicle - usually by clamping - until a release fee is paid
  • The removal of the vehicle from the street

Appeals against council decisions on PCNs can be made to the London Tribunals (formerly the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service, PATAS) in London, the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT) in England and Wales, the Scottish Parking Appeals Service in Scotland and the Northern Ireland Traffic Penalty Tribunal in Northern Ireland. These bodies are tribunals established under DPE; appeals against their decisions can generally be made only on points of law, through judicial review. They are independent of the councils, albeit being funded by them in England and Wales through a fee of 60p per PCN issued. In Northern Ireland the Tribunal is operated by the Northern Ireland Court Service and all PCNs are issued by the Department for Regional Development as opposed to local councils.[1]

Revenue potential

Hammersmith & Fulham roadside parking restriction notice
Roadside parking restriction sign

Local authorities raise more than £1 billion a year from parking fines.[2][3] Some of the money raised goes into the costs of operating the system. Local authorities must report their income from parking fines and charges and must also state what any surplus is spent on. Typically the revenue from such schemes (if lost parking fees from infringing motorists are excluded) is greater than the cost of running the scheme and the surplus goes into the public purse, along with the parking fee income. The surplus revenue is ring-fenced to be used for transport related expenditure unless the Council is judged to be 'excellent' by the Audit Commission, in which case the surplus goes into the Council's general budget (as is the case for Kensington and Chelsea[4]). In 2005/6 the City of Westminster received GBP 65.4 million in parking revenue for on-street parking.[5] From one road in London, £3.2 million was raised in the year 2005-06.[2]

Some councils have used, attempted to use or been accused of attempting to use parking enforcement as a source of revenue.[6]


Claimed benefits for DPE include:

  • Less congestion due to lack of obstruction
  • Higher turnover of parking spaces - thus easier to park
  • Reduced pollution and fuel use due to less circulating traffic and less congestion
  • Safer streets due to less circulating traffic
  • Improved emergency service access due to less obstructed streets
  • Reduced demands on police resources


The summary of an inquiry into parking policy and enforcement by the Transport Committee of the House of Commons[7] states:

In addition to the main task of introducing a unified system of parking enforcement in Britain, we have found that the following action is required:

  • Clear performance standards in applying parking restrictions must be established
  • It must be made clearer to drivers what regulations are in force and how compliance is to be achieved
  • Appropriate recruitment, remuneration and training is needed to ensure a professional parking service throughout the country
  • The process for challenging penalty charge notices must be made much more transparent
  • The impact of the parking adjudication service must be increased and its profile heightened
  • Scrutiny of local authority parking departments is woefully inadequate and needs to be strengthened
  • Local authorities must develop parking strategies which meet local objectives fully, focusing particularly on congestion, road safety and accessibility.

See also


  1. ^ Transport Committee (1 September 2005). "Memorandum submitted by Neil Herron on behalf of the Metric Martyrs Defence Fund". House of Commons. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ a b David Millward (27 October 2006). "Streets where traffic wardens rule". The Daily Telegraph.
  3. ^ Graeme Wilson (22 June 2006). "Motorists pay record £1bn parking bill". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
  4. ^ "What happens to the money?". Parking matters. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. July 2006.
  5. ^ "Parking in Westminster - the facts" (Press release). Westminster City Council. 21 June 2006. Archived from the original on 12 November 2007. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ "London council 'misleading' over 'illegal parking plan'". BBC News. BBC. 20 January 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
  7. ^ Transport Committee (22 June 2006). "Transport - Seventh Report: Parking Policy and Enforcement". House of Commons. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)


External links

  • British Parking Association - Official website of the Member Association representing organisations in the Parking and Traffic Management Industry.
  • UK Parliament Transport Committee - Official website of the committee that examines the expenditure, administration and policy of the UK Department for Transport and its associated bodies
  • New Parking Laws UK - Concise information and advice regarding parking laws in the UK since the introduction of DPE in 2008.
Administrative Monetary Penalty

An Administrative Monetary Penalty is a civil penalty imposed by a regulator for a contravention of an Act, regulation or by-law. It is issued upon discovery of an unlawful event, and is due and payable subject only to any rights of review that may be available under the AMP's implementing scheme. It is regulatory in nature, rather than criminal, and is intended to secure compliance with a regulatory scheme, and it can be employed with the use of other administrative sanctions, such as demerit points and license suspensions.

Controlled Parking Zone

A Controlled Parking Zone or CPZ is a specific type of UK parking restriction that may be applied to a group of roads within the zone. The intended purpose of a CPZ is to reduce the clutter that can arise from erecting several signs that would otherwise convey the same information, such as a common time restriction sign adjacent to all the single yellow lines in the zone. A sign indicating the start of a CPZ typically states that there are parking, loading, weight or other restrictions between certain hours of operation.

The CPZ applies to all parking within the zone unless individual parking bays are signed with different restrictions.

Law enforcement in the United Kingdom

Law enforcement in the United Kingdom is organised separately in each of the legal systems of the United Kingdom: England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Most law enforcement is carried out by police officers serving in regional police services (known as territorial police forces) within one of those jurisdictions. These regional services are complemented by UK-wide agencies, such as the National Crime Agency and the national specialist units of certain territorial police forces, such as the Specialist Operations directorate of the Metropolitan Police.

Police officers are granted certain powers to enable them to execute their duties. Their primary duties are the protection of life and property, preservation of the peace, and prevention and detection of criminal offences. In the British model of policing, officers exercise their powers to police with the implicit consent of the public. "Policing by consent" is the phrase used to describe this. It expresses that the legitimacy of policing in the eyes of the public is based upon a general consensus of support that follows from transparency about their powers, their integrity in exercising those powers and their accountability for doing so.

Local government in England

The pattern of local government in England is complex, with the distribution of functions varying according to the local arrangements.

Legislation concerning local government in England is decided by the Parliament and Government of the United Kingdom, because England does not have a devolved parliament or regional assemblies, outside Greater London.


Parking is the act of stopping and disengaging a vehicle and leaving it unoccupied. Parking on one or both sides of a road is often permitted, though sometimes with restrictions. Some buildings have parking facilities for use of the buildings' users. Countries and local governments have rules for design and use of parking spaces.

Parking enforcement officer

A parking enforcement officer (PEO), traffic warden (British English), parking inspector/parking officer (Australia and New Zealand), or civil enforcement officer is a member of a traffic control department or agency who issues tickets for parking violations. The term parking attendant is sometimes considered a synonym but sometimes used to refer to the different profession of parking lot attendant.Even where parking meters are no longer used, the term "meter maid" is often still used to refer to female PEOs.

Parking meter

A parking meter is a device used to collect money in exchange for the right to park a vehicle in a particular place for a limited amount of time. Parking meters can be used by municipalities as a tool for enforcing their integrated on-street parking policy, usually related to their traffic and mobility management policies, but are also used for revenue.

Pay-by-plate parking

Pay-by-plate machines are a subset of ticket machines used for regulating parking in urban areas or in parking lots. They enable customers to purchase parking time by using their license plate number. The machines print a receipt that generally displays the location, machine number, start time, expiration time, amount paid, and license plate.

Pay and display

A pay and display machine is a type of ticket machine used for regulating parking in urban areas or in car parks. It relies on a customer purchasing a ticket from a machine and displaying the ticket on the dashboard, windscreen or passenger window of the vehicle. Details included on a printed ticket are generally the location and operator of the machine, expiry time, fee paid and time entered.

Police ranks of the United Kingdom

Most of the police forces of the United Kingdom use a standardised set of ranks, with a slight variation in the most senior ranks for the Metropolitan Police Service and City of London Police. Most of the British police ranks that exist today were chosen by Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel, the founder of the Metropolitan Police, enacted under the Metropolitan Police Act of 1829. The ranks at that time were deliberately chosen so that they did not correspond with military ranking (with the exception of Sergeant), because of fears of a paramilitary force.

The ranks are listed below in ascending order:

Constable and Sergeant

Inspector and Chief Inspector

Superintendent and Chief Superintendent

Assistant Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable and Chief Constable (outside London only).See also: variations for the ranks in London, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.

Traffic stop

A traffic stop, commonly called being pulled over, is a temporary detention of a driver of a vehicle by police to investigate a possible crime or minor violation of law.

Traffic violations reciprocity

Under traffic violations reciprocity agreements, non-resident drivers are treated like residents when they are stopped for a traffic offense that occurs in another jurisdiction. They also ensure that punishments such as penalty points on one's license and the ensuing increase in insurance premiums follow the driver home. The general principle of such interstate, interprovincial, and/or international compacts is to guarantee the rule "one license, one record."

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Moving violations
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