Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has promised new proposals aimed at cracking down on cowboy wheel clampers, it has been revealed.
Under the plans, clamping firms will be required to be licensed by an industry regulator. Drivers must also face an easier appeals process if they think they have been unfairly treated.
Certain practices employed by "rogue" clampers have been highly criticised, including towing vehicles away unreasonably quickly, charging enormous fees to have cars released, and not putting up clear warning signs that clamping is in force.
The plans will be welcomed by motoring groups, who say hard-pressed drivers are already forced to employ a number of tactics to keep costs down, such as trading down to a smaller engine, looking for cheaper car insurance and hunting around for the cheapest fuel.
Ms Smith said: "The licensing of individual wheel clampers has gone a long way to reducing criminality and improving standards in the industry, but it has become clear that the existing licensing scheme does not address all the concerns the public have.
She said the Government intended to look carefully at a scheme for compulsory licensing of clamping companies in order to root out the firms found to be indulging in "unacceptable behaviour".
© Press Association 2009