Cosham clamp firm avoids prosecution over its practices

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A GOVERNMENT body has decided not to prosecute a controversial clamping firm following an investigation into its practices.

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) – which licenses individual wheel clampers – launched a probe into City Watch Enforcement in November after motorists alleged that several clampers had been using the same licence number.

But legal action has not been taken against the clampers, who patrol council-owned car parks behind High Street, Cosham because SIA couldn’t prove the clampers had been carrying out their work unlawfully.

Details about how the investigation was carried out have been kept under wraps by SIA because it says the information is sensitive.

But it has not ruled out the possibility that other forms of action have been taken to ensure that City Watch is keeping within the law.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, who presented SIA with scores of written complaints against the clampers at the beginning of the investigation, said she was disappointed by the outcome.

‘It’s extremely disappointing,’ she said. ‘The way SIA operates is odd. I cannot think of another organisation where someone who has made a complaint is not entitled to hear details about the outcome.

‘I will certainly be giving the SIA my feedback on its investigation processes.’

More than 300 motorists have been fined £205 or more by City Watch for failing to pay and display. Private clampers are set to become illegal under the Protection of Freedoms Bill, which is currently going through the House of Lords. Under the Bill only the police, DVLA and local authorities will be allowed to clamp vehicles.

Amy Cope, a spokeswoman for SIA, said: ‘At this time no prosecution has been brought against City Watch.

‘We are not able to give feedback on how information provided to us has been used due to data protection and commercial considerations. We have a range of formal enforcement actions at our disposal, from verbal or written warnings and improvement notices to prosecution.

‘Which one we use will depend on the severity of the case, the number of reported incidents and any previous action that has been taken against that individual or company.’