The compliance monitoring programme offers practical advice and guidance to members, whilst delivering regular site assessments and operational audits and addressing compliance issues that have arisen from complaints made by members of the public.
Historically, compliance with the BPA Code of Practice has been reliant on members operating reasonably and responsibly and by self-certifying their compliance by providing BPA with an annual evidence of compliance report.
With the launch of the Code of Practice the BPA seeks to bring a degree of self regulation to the off street parking industry, by introducing a stronger compliance monitoring programme. In order to support the programme the BPA has employed an independent auditor to support the AOS team and manage the programme, with additional support from the BPA’s network of Safer Parking Scheme Development Managers.
Read our FAQs below to find out more.
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Why is it important to comply with the Code of Practice?
Unlike the public 'on street' parking sector, the private parking sector has no direct legislation to govern it or to provide standards. Secondary legislation such as the law of contract or the tort of trespass provide a form of framework, but it does leave a lot of 'grey areas' where there is little guidance for the operator or the driver. The BPA developed its Code of Practice and published it in 2007 to provide an operational framework for its members and to ensure that those operators conduct their business in a responsible and reasonable manner. Compliance with the Code shows the public and your clients that you operate by those high standards and that you are among those parking operators that are at the forefront of the development of the sector.
What should I do if I make a change to the way that I conduct my business?
If you make any changes to your business, whether it is the manner of enforcement, your operational address or the design of your signs, you must inform us promptly. Compliance to the Code of Practice means that the information that we carry must be up to date. If this information is not accurate and you are not forthcoming with updates, your business could be liable to receive one Sanction Point, specifically "Failure to maintain up to date compliant documents for Evidence of Compliance Report (Sanction 1.1)". Sanctions are explained in more detail in the Code of Practice.
I complied with the Code when I joined the BPA/AOS – why is there a need for ongoing compliance?
There are three reasons why the need for compliance is ongoing:
Since the Code of Practice and its compliance requirements are constantly evolving. There is no primary legislation for the private parking sector, any new legislation that is released must be incorporated into the Code, so that members are aware of the regulations and can be sure that they abide them. It is a commitment of the BPA to ensure that standards are always being raised, and to do this for AOS members, we will continue to ask more from you when we update compliance requirements. As your business grows and evolves, processes and strategies will grow and evolve with it. Ongoing compliance will ensure that your business grows and evolves with Best Practice and the appropriate secondary legislation in mind.What happens if there is a change in legislation that affects the Code?
Any legislation overrides the Code of Practice, which is not a statutory document. The BPA would hope to be consulted on the development of any new legislation, but regardless, we will always take legal advice on any new laws that we are made aware of, and how they may affect the private parking sector. We would then take this advice and work with the AOS Standards Advisory Panel (ASAP) to incorporate operational standards for adhering to the legislation into the Code of Practice. Any work undertaken by ASAP would be signed off by the AOS Board before being incorporated into the Code. The membership would also be kept informed of any major changes that would be incorporated into the Code.
How are changes to the Code and the ability of my organisation to comply with it communicated to me?
The membership is kept informed of any major updates that are made to the Code. Minor updates such as formatting changes or updates that do not require changes to compliance documents go through the process as outlined above and the membership will be informed by publication of an updated Code document.
Who will conduct the audits?
Originally operator audits were carried out by staff members of BPA, when membership levels allowed. However the level of membership has surpassed the ability of BPA to manage the operator audit within its staffing levels. Therefore in order to ensure that the quality of operator audits is maintained at a high standard, it was decided to appoint an external auditor. After a tendering process to ensure transparency and fairness, NSI were appointed in April 2010. It is our intention that each member of the AOS will receive one site audit per year as a matter of course. Additional audits may be carried out if necessary.
What happens to the results of these audits?
After an audit has been completed on site, the results will be sent back to BPA, detailing any recommendations for compliance made by the auditor. This will be followed up by a letter to you from the AOS Team that will cover any matters that we feel require attention and rectification. Any audits carried out by BPA or NSI will be treated confidentially, and any recommendations will be taken under advisement.
How often can I expect my organisation to be audited?
We plan to audit all operators once a year, but there may be occasions when we will ask NSI to visit you to conduct a special audit as the result of a series of complaints that we may have received about you.
Can the NSI issue Sanction Points against my organisation and if so how can I appeal?
It is not within the power of our external auditors to issue sanctions points. Our auditors will make recommendations for sanction points to the AOS team, which we will take under advisement. Any decision to apply sanctions will only ever be made by the AOS team.
What happens if I can't make an Audit appointment for any reason?
If you are unable to make an audit, you should contact the external auditor as soon as you are aware of the situation, and reschedule the appointment. During your probationary period this audit is crucial to your assessment; as such, we would recommend that you make all efforts to ensure that the appointment is kept.
What will happen if I refuse to allow my organisation to be audited?
Refusal to allow our agents to carry out an audit is a sanctionable offence in the AOS Sanctions Scheme. The external audit is a part of the assessment of your probationary membership and you must complete this before you are granted full membership to the scheme. If you refuse to allow your organisation to be audited, you may well receive one Sanction Point, specifically failing to allow BPA or their agents to discharge their duties as auditors (Sanction 1.3). Your organisation may be disciplined which could result in your probationary status not being confirmed to full membership and also suspension or expulsion from the AOS.
Who can I appeal to if I think that the results/recommendations made at an audit of my organisation are unfair?
If you believe that any recommendations made by any audit are unfair, you have the right of appeal to the Head of AOS, who will review the audit with the external auditor.
How much notice would I receive of an Audit appointment?
Audits are usually conducted within 3 months of your organisation being confirmed as a probationary member of the AOS. Contact will be made with you in this time by the auditor, and a mutually convenient date/time will be agreed
What documents will the Auditor expect to see at an Audit
The auditor will want to see the originals of the copies that you sent over for the desktop audit. They will also want to see copies of staff training records, and the bank of contracts that you hold. They will not be taking copies of these documents. They will also be asking you questions about your activities and how they sit within the Code of Practice. They will also want to assess a local car park once they have completed the office survey.
Will the Auditor be accompanied by BPA/AOS staff?
Not usually, but as a part of our monitoring processes of NSI, this could happen.
Why has this system of Auditing been introduced?
This system of audit has always been a part of the application process to join the AOS. It is just that as a part of raising standards and the issue of logistics, an independent external auditor has been appointed.
Sanctions Scheme - In what ways can Sanction Points be awarded?
Sanctions points can be awarded in two ways:
Through the investigation of a complaint where the operator is proven to be in breach of the Code.Through an assessment of compliance criteria where there is insufficient or no proof of compliance following a desktop audit or a site audit.At first glance the Sanctions Scheme appears to be a punitive one for the BPA/AOS to deal with its members – how would the BPA/AOS respond to this statement?
The Sanctions Scheme is not intended as a punitive means of enforcement at all. When the scheme was introduced in 2010, there were no changes made to the investigative process, and there have been no changes to the outcomes of any investigations carried out. 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. Our focus has been, is, and always will about compliance of the member. It should be appreciated however that significant or repeated non compliance to the Code will not be tolerated.
What happens if I wish to challenge any points that are awarded against my organisation?
If we are in the position where we have to award any points, they may be challenged by contacting the Head of AOS in writing or by e-mail who will discuss the matter with the Director of Technical Services. If your business reaches 12 points and is to be referred to BPA Council for disciplinary action, you may appeal in writing or by e-mail to the BPA's Director of Membership Services. You would also have the right to appear before the BPA Council Disciplinary Panel.
What happens if my organisation reaches 12 Sanction Points in a 12 month period?
If your organisation reaches 12 points in any 12 month period, it will be referred to BPA Council for a disciplinary hearing, where membership to BPA will be reviewed. At this point it is possible that membership to BPA may be suspended or terminated. If this happens then membership to AOS will automatically be suspended or terminated too.
What happens if my organisation is awarded a Level 5 Sanction, equivalent to 10 Sanction Points?
Should your organisation be awarded 10 sanction points, and your 'licence'exceeds 12 points, your organisation will be referred to BPA Council for disciplinary action. Due to the serious nature of a Level 5 Sanction, we will also inform DVLA of our actions, who reserve the right to withdraw access to the keeper details database for your organisation
Does the BPA inform the DVLA if my organisation receives any Sanction Points and would this affect my ability to access DVLA Keeper Details?
Yes, but only for more serious sanctions at Level 4 or Level 5. We would ensure that DVLA are fully apprised of the circumstances, but it would be DVLA's decision whether access continued to be allowed for your organisation. Ultimately, the decision for allowing any access to the vehicle keeper database is the DVLA's: BPA only facilitates the gateway for access, ensuring that your organisation operates to a sufficient standard to merit that access.
Will the awarding of any Sanction Points to my organisation be reported to other BPA/AOS Members or the media?
No. We will report to the AOS Board and other BPA Executive Boards that Sanctions have been awarded, but we will never report n specific points that have been awarded to individual organisations.
How will I be informed if Sanctions Points are awarded against my organisation?
We will keep you informed at every stage of any investigation for the potential of awarding Sanctions Points:
When we are made aware of any allegation, during the process of investigation, any decision to confirm a breach of the Code, and any remedial action that must be taken, the final decision to award Sanctions Points, and referral of the organisation to BPA for disciplinary process.
What defence and/or mitigating circumstances can I offer in situations where I might get Sanction Points awarded against my organisation?
We will listen to any challenge against awarded Sanctions Points. These should be made to the Head of AOS who will discuss the challenge and/or any mitigating circumstances with the Director of Technical Services. We want our membership to be compliant with the terms of the Code, and we want you to be able to operate within a compliant environment. We will not however be sympathetic to spurious challenges, or where there is a refusal to cooperate with compliance.