A guide to the Approved Operator Scheme.
To check whether an operator is a member please check this page.
Can just anybody join?
Membership to the AOS is open to any operator that wishes to conduct enforcement operations on private land, or that is linked to the enforcement process in any way.
How do you know that they really are compliant?
Compliance to the Code is something that we take very seriously, and we take every opportunity to make sure that our members are following the rules:
- We audit their business when they apply to join the scheme.
- We visit them and conduct an audit within four months of them joining.
- We visit them and audit their business at least once a year thereafter.
Visiting car parks is a slightly more difficult proposition, as it is estimated that there are between 26-30,000 private car parking sites in the UK. However we work on the intelligence that we obtain from inside and outside the industry, and we will investigate any allegations of breaches of our Code of Practice.
If I do receive a ticket from an operator who is not compliant, what do I do?
If you believe the operator is not compliant with the terms of our Code of Practice, we would ask that you report the operator to the BPA so that we can take steps to investigate the situation and then rectify the breach. We cannot influence the operator to refund or cancel your parking charge however. If you wish to challenge the issuing of the charge, you must write to the operator to lodge your appeal. In any event, we would recommend that you contact the operator before you contact us.
Do you have statutory powers to regulate your members?
The BPA is a private membership association, and so has no statutory powers to punish operators that have broken the terms of our Code of Practice. However we do operate a scheme of sanctions that we apply if an operator is found to be in breach of our Code of Practice.
Sanctions points are applied to the operator's membership file, and if the operator reaches 12 points or more in any rolling twelve month period, that operator could face disciplinary action and suspension or expulsion from the AOS and the BPA. This will in turn mean that the operator will be unable to access the DVLA's keeper details database, and so will be unable to pursue outstanding parking charges, which will have a considerable financial impact upon their business.
In any event, your complaints will help us to raise standards in the private parking sector through investigations, and also highlight to us where our Code of Practice can be improved still further.
If I make an appeal to the operator, how long will it take to be resolved? If this is longer than
the payment deadline, do I still have to pay by the deadline?
The BPA's Code of Practice is very clear that all complaints and appeals made to the operator must be dealt with promptly and efficiently. The operator is required to acknowledge your appeal within 14 days of receiving it, and they must respond with a full explanation of their investigation with 35 days. Whilst they are investigating your appeal, they must freeze the charge at the rate at which the appeals process was commenced.
If they do decide to turn down your appeal, they must give you an extra 14 days to pay at the rate at which you decided to appeal. When you send your appeal to the operator, it is advisable to send the letter by recorded or even registered post, to ensure that you get a receipt signature.
If you do not want to do this, it is a good idea to contact the operator to ensure that they have received your appeal, especially if you have not received an acknowledgement after the required 14 days.
How does your Sanctions Scheme work?
The Sanctions Scheme was introduced in September 2010, as an aid to the AOS team's process for investigating complaints and compliance issues. The purpose of the Sanctions Scheme is to quantify any confirmed breaches of the Code of Practice, and to provide a framework for BPA and its members to understand the breadth and depth of the performance of its members under the Code, and to ensure that the correct action is taken against the relevant breach.
If, following an investigation a breach of the Code of Practice is upheld, then sanctions points will be applied to a member's file, commensurate with the severity of the breach. If a member receives 12 or more sanctions points in any 12 month period, disciplinary action may follow, which could result in suspension or expulsion from the BPA and our Approved Operator Scheme, and/or suspended access to the DVLA's registered keeper database.
I am a blue badge holder: surely my vehicle is exempt from private parking rules?
The Department for Transport's Blue Badge scheme for the disabled driver allows for holders of the permit to park in certain restricted areas for up to three hours (areas and times may vary, depending upon the local authority). This concession applies to the public highway only, and is not relevant on private land.
Whilst some landlords do provide preferential parking for blue badge holders, this parking is generally subject to the same terms and conditions as found elsewhere on the car park, and is sometimes charged for on the same tariff as other users of the car park. To avoid confusion, you should always check the terms
Can we access keeper details to advise that an underpayment has been made before the 28 days have expired when the keeper has not included their address?
No. The keeper may not be the person who paid the invoice or may have moved house.
Why can’t we be given the details of a person when the previous keeper has told you they sold the car to them but the new keeper hasn’t confirmed that?
The information provided by the previous keeper may be false and the person named may have no connection to the vehicle. We have received complaints from people who have never driven or owned a car but have been contacted by organisations chasing charges.
Why is an Independent Appeals Service beneficial to my business?
Parking operators will be required to offer the motorist access to the Independent Appeals Service when the dispute cannot be resolved. The Independent Appeal Service is a prerequisite to achieving keeper liability for unpaid parking charges. Everyone should benefit from this.
One of the most frequent criticisms of the private parking sector is the lack of an Independent Appeals Service. Presently there is no alternative dispute resolution service which is independent of the operator. By creating one the parking sector will restore some of the trust that has been lost in the industry over the years because of the actions of a minority of rogue operators.
The combination of an Independent Appeal Service, the Code of Practice and an independent audit process will deliver a higher standard of service within the parking sector. We believe that this will in turn, result in a better public understanding of why parking management is necessary and the recognition that parking tickets issued on private land are legitimate.
For more information please read the FAQs on The Protection of Freedoms Act
When parking on private land should the parking company place signage at the entrance to a car park?
A sign should be placed at the entrance to a private car park site wherever possible in order to advertise the terms and conditions for parking. There are occasions where this is not possible, such as if the entrance to a car park is placed between areas of land owned by another landowner, and those landowners do not give permission for a sign to be placed on the land, or planning permission is not granted, but these exceptions are few and far between.
What are the BPA guidelines on how clear the locations of where to pay should be?
There are no specific guidelines on the clarity of payment locations in a car park, but the Code of Practice does state that signs in a car park should be clear and easy to understand. This should refer to the main terms and conditions signs as well as supplementary signs such as ‘have you paid and displayed?’ and ‘please pay here’ signs.
I wasn't the driver on the day a parking charge notice was issued and the driver is now overseas. What can I do?
As of 1st October 2012, with the introduction of the Protection of Freedoms Act, Schedule 4 of the act enables the parking operator to pursue the keeper of the vehicle if no serviceable address for the driver is provided.
You could send the operator the details of the driver if you wish, and the operator may try to pursue the driver. However it may be that the operator will then revert to you as the keeper of the vehicle to obtain the outstanding charge, as he is allowed to do so by law.
In this respect, I would suggest that it would be down to you to obtain the charge from the driver if you so wished.
Is it true that BPA members are not allowed to recover charges without first getting a judgement in their favour in a civil court?
It is not true that any parking operator must wait until receiving a court judgement before recovering parking charges.
Court action is in fact the final stage that an operator would use if all other avenues have been exhausted. When dealing with private parking, the outstanding parking charge is - in most cases – the result of a broken contract where the motorist has failed – for whatever reason – to abide by the terms and conditions for parking in the car park.
In pursuing the outstanding parking charge the operator is entitled to charge for the recovery of the costs of carrying out the enforcement of the parking. Should this charge not be recovered then the operator is allowed to pursue the charge through the court process.
When a company issues a parking charge notice are they legally obliged to complete all fields of the notice to make the charge valid.
If a motorist receives a parking charge for parking their car in a private and unregulated car park, there is no legal obligation that compels them to ensure that a parking charge is completed when it is given out. Naturally, there are some fields that must be completed in order to ensure that the charge can be properly pursued if it is not paid, such as the date/time of the event, the location, the vehicle’s registration and the make/model of that vehicle. With other fields however, it would be good practice to complete the them, but I would suggest that it would not necessarily affect the legality of the charge.
I receeved a parking charge notice from a private company but the registration is incorrect, is the ticket still valid?
Parking tickets issued on private land are not regulated by law, so if a small mistake appears on a parking ticket, it does not necessarily make it invalid. If the parking ticket has been issued to the correct party, then it is considered to be legitimately given.
If I received a parking fine 35 days after the offence, am I liable to pay the fine?
If you have received a parking charge in 35 days, then it is issued outside of the terms of the Protection of Freedoms Act (PoFA). However it does not necessarily make the ticket invalid. Parking charges are primarily issued under the law of contract, or trespass, depending on the terms and conditions that prevail at the site. Schedule 4 of PoFA was designed by Government to enable the operator to be able to pursue the keeper of the vehicle if no serviceable name and address for the driver has been presented.
If the charge has not been delivered within the specified timescale, PoFA does not apply, but the terms and conditions within the car park are still valid.