Investigation launched into Cosham clampers

ACTION A clamp is removed from a vehicle at the car park
ACTION A clamp is removed from a vehicle at the car park
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AN INVESTIGATION has been launched into the activities of a controversial car clamping firm, The News can reveal.

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) – which has the power to revoke a car clamper’s licence – is to probe the tactics of City Watch Enforcement, which monitors a car park in Old Market Road, Cosham.

It comes after hundreds of motorists complained the firm had acted unlawfully.

The investigation was launched at a private meeting on Monday in the House of Commons between SIA investigators and Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, who handed over a dossier of complaints about City Watch.

The firm has pocketed more than £40,000 from parking fines at the council-owned car park since June.

If the SIA finds that individual clampers have been operating without a licence – which is a breach of the Private Security Industry Act 2001 – then they could be suspended temporarily from their duties or have their licence taken away indefinitely. They also face a maximum £5,000 fine and a six-month prison sentence. But SIA officials have admitted it will take time to wade through all the potential evidence.

Ms Mordaunt said: ‘My point of view is that the authority is going to do a very thorough job of looking at the issues that have been around for a while.

‘But I am not going to wash my hands of this. I will still be focusing on outstanding appeals which have either been ignored by City Watch and or have been rejected.’

As part of the investigation, which doesn’t have a time frame, the SIA is calling on motorists to ask a clamper for their licence and check that the licence photo corresponds with the person before them.

An SIA spokesman said: ‘We’re happy to lead on the issues raised but understand that Ms Mordaunt will continue to represent some specific issues.’

Portsmouth City Council is set to take over parking enforcement at the car park, which is leased to Lionsgate Properties and managed by Lee Baron, next April.