With the introduction of the Government's vehicle immobilisation consultation, the number of licensed wheel clampers has increased, a motoring charity has warned.
Currently around 2,100 people hold licences - up from 1,200 in March 2008 and 1,900 in April 2009, when the Home Office began consulting on reforms to control the industry, according to the RAC Foundation.
Blaming lenient laws for more people becoming clampers, RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said: "The figures reveal more and more people are becoming clampers because the business is so lucrative and the law surrounding it so lax.
"With charges for being clamped and towed often running into several hundred pounds, cowboy clampers will be out in force during the Christmas sales, on the lookout for motorists who leave their car in the wrong place even for a few minutes."
The charity is urging people to be more cautious during the festive season by checking parking arrangements before they go for shopping, and also consider alternatives such as park-and-ride schemes instead.
The Home Office said that it will introduce a compulsory licensing scheme to tackle rogue wheel clampers.
But the foundation argued: "The huge rise in licence holders proves the Government needs to act quickly. It has promised a cap on fees, an appeals service and a binding code of conduct. In 2010 it needs to deliver."
© Press Association 2009