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Parking Attendants and You - Their Powers and Your Rights

May 18, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 137

Parking Attendants are the most visible guardians of on-street parking restrictions in the United Kingdom. Though their name has been officially changed to the weightier 'Civil Enforcement Officers 'by the Traffic Management Act 2004, they are united with their 'enemies' in motoring and media Britain in preferring their former title.

According to the popular press, their powers, to impose parking tickets are endless and matched only by their unwillingness to show the most minimal discretion in applying the law. But what really are the powers of these sentinels of the UK's tough parking regimes who issue most of the almost 8 million parking tickets generated in the country annually?

Below I have attempted to answer this using a 'Frequently Asked Question' format, relying heavily on key Government guidelines, most of which are not as widely known as they probably should be.

Must an enforcement officer always wear a hat when issuing a ticket?

The issue is not as clear cut as many make it out to be. It is regarded as best practice for an enforcement officer to wear full attire including head gear when carrying out enforcement action on street and most councils maintain this policy. However there is room for discretion

Section 8.2 of the Department of Transport's Operational Guidance to Local Authorities Parking Policy and Enforcement published in November 2010 states -

"...... If appropriate headgear, such as a hat, is part of the uniform, the civil enforcement officer should wear it at all reasonable times, unless unable to do so for religious reasons. It may be sensible to make headgear optional in certain circumstances so that a PCN is valid even if issued by a CEO not wearing a hat."

The approach to this should be that wearing head gear should be the default position of most council's. If an enforcement officer has issued a ticket without wearing one (for whatever reason) then his employing authority must provide written evidence that the council has a policy permitting this.

What if I return before the officer has finished writing out the ticket

If the officer has started writing out a ticket before the return of the motorist, he or she is not allowed to stop it even if the motorist offers to move the vehicle from its unlawful position.

However if the driver does meet the enforcement officer at the location and the ticket is not served to him or the vehicle, the local authority cannot subsequently send the notice by post, provided of course that the officer was not prevented by verbal threats or physical assault from serving it

If a driver returns during a period when his/her vehicle is being observed by an enforcement officer, and offers to move the vehicle, a ticket should not be issued since although the vehicle is in contravention, the critical fact that the ticket has not been started (since it can only be written after the end of the observation) means that it cannot be issued if the observation is interrupted by a motorist who then offers to move the vehicle before the observation ends.

Section 8.77 of the Department of transport's operational guidance above makes these points categorically clear.

"..........A PCN may not be served by post if the motorist returns to the vehicle before the CEO has started to issue it. A CEO has not started to issue a PCN if s/he is observing a vehicle or jotting down some details. It is only when the CEO starts to create the PCN and would otherwise have to cancel it that they have started to issue it."

When is a Parking ticket regarded as being validly issued on street?

This is when it is either affixed to the vehicle or handed to its driver or the person who appears to be in charge of the vehicle. Government guidelines direct enforcement officers to secure a notice to a vehicles windscreen in a manner capable of preventing its easy removal by a third party. Section 8.37 of the Department of Transport's Operational guidance on parking states -

'The PCN must either be fixed to the vehicle or given to the person who appears to be in charge of that vehicle......'

If the enforcing officer is prevented from serving the notice to the vehicle or the driver by threats of physical or actual physical obstruction, then the notice can be sent to the registered keeper by post. This is made clear by section 8.63 of the aforementioned operational guidance

When is a ticket regarded as being affixed to a vehicle?

A parking ticket is considered legally issued when it is either fixed to a vehicle or handed to the motorist by the enforcement officer. Government policies demand that a penalty charge notice be affixed to the windscreen of a vehicle for it to be regarded as legally issued.

Section 8.38 of the Department of Transport's operational guidance (quoted above) states -

'The vehicle owner's copy of the PCN should be fixed to the windscreen, so it must be weatherproof or able to fit a weatherproof envelope. It should be fixed in such a way that it cannot easily be removed by wind or passers-by.'

There are 3 exceptions to this rule, wherein a parking ticket can be validly served if it is not affixed to a vehicle or handed to a person who appears to be in control of it. These exceptions are outlined in Section 47 of the Secretary of States guidance

The exceptions are -

  • When a parking contravention has been detected by the use of a Camera. In this case the ticket can be sent by post
  • when an enforcement officer has been prevented by force, threats of force or obstruction from serving a parking ticket on-street
  • if the enforcement officer had starting writing the ticket but had been unable to serve it because the driver drove away before it could be affixed to the vehicle
  • However if the enforcement officer was prevented from serving the notice to the driver or vehicle by threatening actions or behavior, local authorities are allowed to send the notice by post. But they would need to provide some evidence that the officer was actually prevented from serving the notice.

Must enforcement officers always provide pictures or photographic evidence to back up their action?

The wide availability of cheap and easy to use digital cameras means most local authorities now issue them to their parking attendants or civil enforcement officers to help in gathering evidence in support of their enforcement action.

While not all contraventions require the provision of such evidence, in some cases it is very useful although not necessarily compulsory that it is produced to support enforcement action. Contraventions dealing with footway parking or incorrect parking within a bay or parking place will usually require some form of graphical evidence, the most appropriate being a digital timed and dated image.

The Department of Transport's Operational Guidance to Local Authorities Parking Policy and Enforcement published in November 2010 states in section 8.43 -

"..Photographs and notes by the CEO about the circumstances should be kept as further evidence that the contravention took place and to help resolve any disputes........ The use of digital cameras and similar technology is strongly encouraged. Authorities should disclose their evidence at the earliest possible opportunity"

Section 41 of The Secretary of State's Statutory Guidance to Local Authorities on the Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (Published in February 2008) states

"Photographs and notes by the CEO about the circumstances should be kept as further evidence that the contravention took place......the use of digital cameras and similar technology is strongly encouraged"

Can multiple tickets be issued by an enforcement officer to the same vehicle for the same offence?

If an illegally parked vehicle is committing 2 offences in the same location can two different parking tickets be issued? For example a car parked on the foot way and at the same time a yellow line during prescribed hours.

In such an instance best practice demands that one of the tickets should be cancelled. Local authorities will usually have guidance on which contravention will take precedence if a vehicle is flouting more than one parking regulation at the same time.

Section 8.45 of the Department of Transports operational guidance states -

A vehicle may be parked in contravention of more than one restriction. For example, it may be parked partly on a yellow line and partly in a marked bay with an inadequate parking ticket. In these circumstances the CEO should issue only one PCN. CEO's should be instructed on which contravention takes precedence.

My vehicle was parked illegally for up to 24 hours and two parking tickets were issued to it for the same contravention

Once again government guidance advises local authorities to cancel the second ticket. Section 8.46 of the guidance states

If two or more PCN's are issued within 24 hours for the same contravention, that is, to a vehicle that has not been moved, it is current practice to cancel the second PCN.

Are officers allowed to exercise discretion on street - if not, why not

This is done only in rare instances. Due to the nature of the job and potential for inducement or intimidation, parking attendants are only not given a wide ambit of discretion on street. This is to prevent them from being compelled or cajoled to exercise such 'discretion' in waiving or disregarding clear cases of illegal parking or showing any form of favoritism.

For tips on appealing parking tickets in the UK, please check out the Uk's most informative Parking appeal website at

The website gives comprehensive information on appealing the UK's most common and controversial parking contraventions. it also includes deatils of how to appeal, advise on drafting apppeal letters together with sample appeal phrases and the UK's first virtual Controlled Parking Zone bringing key contraventions to life on a screen near you.

Wole Odetola is a qualified Transport Engineer with over 15 years experience in the London Traffic/Transport engineering and project management sector. This includes training council staff across London on Road Traffic legislation and management and Government transport policy.

He holds an in Transport Planning and Engineering and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Transport and Logistics

Source: EzineArticles
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