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Rogue clampers pocket £55m a year

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New figures released by the Government show that motorists are paying some £55 million a year to private cowboy wheel clampers.

The latest Home Office figures, which reveal that rogue clampers are raking in millions from unsuspecting drivers, add to the worries of motorists who are already battling soaring fuel and car insurance costs.

Some 500,000 people are clamped annually on private land in England and Wales, paying an average of £112 to release their vehicles.

However, legislation due to come into force next year will criminalise clamping on private land.

Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone said: "For too long motorists have fallen victim to extortion and abuse from rogue clamping companies.

"I have been outraged by cases of drivers being frog-marched to cash points late at night or left stranded by rogue operators who have towed their vehicle away. Clearly this is unacceptable.

"By criminalising clamping and towing on private land this Government is committing rogue clampers to history and putting an end to intimidation and excessive charges once and for all."

However, some critics, such as the British Parking Association, said the Government was creating "a charter for the selfish parker", which would lead to drivers parking wherever they choose.

© Press Association 2011