Launched in October 2007, the Approved Operator Scheme (AOS) is a scheme for BPA members that are involved in parking enforcement services on private land or in unregulated public car parks. Operators may conduct a wide range of services in this sector, including but not limited to: enforcement, by ticketing or Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras, or services such as back office functions, data management and debt recovery.
The AOS is supported by the BPA Code of Practice for Parking Enforcement on Private Land and Unregulated Car Parks.
Regulation for the Industry
In August 2010, the Coalition Government announced their intention to ban clamping on private land. The next two years saw the development and subsequent Royal Assent of the Protection of Freedoms Act which banned all forms of immobilisation without lawful authority. The BPA welcomed the change as a move to marginalise rogue clampers, but felt that the legislation took away a valuable form of enforcement from landowners to use in the protection of their land. In order to ensure that private enforcement remained with a robust solution, our discussions with Government resulted in a form of keeper liability being introduced with the Protection of Freedoms Act, allowing the private operator in England and Wales to pursue the registered keeper of a vehicle if a named driver cannot be traced or denies liability.
Keeper liability has been introduced by Government on one proviso: that the industry provides the motorist with an Independent Appeals Service (IAS), and that the service will be funded by the industry. POPLA - Parking on Private Land Appeals - launched on October 1st 2012.
DVLA Vehicle Keeper data access
Alongside the launch of the AOS in 2007, DVLA announced that any company/organisation accessing Vehicle Keeper data via an electronic request process that is not a Local Authority or government organisation must be a member of an Accredited Trade Association (ATA).
The BPA welcomed this change but called for further restriction, as it did not refer to postal applications from operators. In 2009, DVLA published a consultation to close the loophole and from 23 November 2009, all operators requesting vehicle keeper data, whether electronically or by post, must either be a member of an ATA, be regulated by government or by legislation.
A condition of an ATA is that they have a Code of Practice in place. The BPA has been working with DVLA since their announcement, achieving ATA status and sharing all plans for the AOS with them.