herald

Sunday 17 November 2019

Clampers' code looks to avoid 'threatening and aggressive' behaviour

NTA has devised a new code
NTA has devised a new code

Clampers must avoid using "aggressive or threatening" language or engaging in "predatory activities" under a new code of practice for the industry.

Where a motorist is being "unreasonable or aggressive", the clamper should try to reduce the tension. If this is not possible, they should leave the scene or call gardai.

The new code, which has been devised by the National Transport Authority (NTA), says clampers should avoid using "tactics that appear overenthusiastic or aggressive to motorists".

"In particular, activities which could be construed as predatory may not be carried out," it adds.

The NTA also urges clamping companies dealing with appeals to give "reasonable consideration" to using discretion in compassionate cases.

Among a raft of recommendations contained in the new code of practice is that a clamp must be released if it has not been locked by the time a motorist returns to their car.

It also says clampers must release all vehicles if their online or phone payment facilities are not working, and that at no time should a clamper escort a motorist to an ATM to withdraw money to pay for a clamp to be released.

Disputes

The code also says if clampers use hand-held card readers that rely on an internet connection and coverage is poor in the area where the clamping has taken place, they cannot ask a motorist to go somewhere else with better coverage to make the payment.

Motorists currently have a 10-minute "grace period" from parking their car to buying a parking ticket.

However, the NTA recommends clampers wait 11 minutes from the time of detection before fixing the clamp "to eliminate unnecessary disputes".

It also states that parking controllers ensure pay and display tickets are "fit for purpose" so that they won't curl up in sunshine or get dislodged easily by slight air movements within a closed car.

In the case of park-by-text services, the NTA says while it is up to motorists to ensure they have entered the correct car registration, it says technology used by parking controllers should be able to recognise when a motorist makes a mistake, for example an invalid format for the year or county.

The technology should alert the motorist to the mistake and refuse to proceed with the payment.

The NTA says while updating such technology may have a cost implication for the parking controller, it would "ultimately contribute to a reduction in the number of clamping appeals raised by motorists".

The authority says clampers are sometimes using clamps that are not the right size for the vehicle, for example a clamp that is suitable for a car on the wheel of a large van. It says if the clamper does not have the correct clamp, then they should not try to clamp the vehicle.

The draft code is currently open for public consultation and will take effect from next January.

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