Why not to clamp down on clamping


Yesterday it was announced that, as part of the government’s seemingly ironical ‘Freedom Bill’, private property owners are to be banned from clamping cars parked illegally on their property. War is Peace. Ignorance is Strength.

If an unwanted someone breaks into my house I am, quite reasonably, entitled to restrain him. Few would argue that I am doing wrong, fewer still that I am interfering with his freedom. He did, after all, make an informed choice when deciding to crowbar open my window and slide into my living room.

Is it so unreasonable, then, to detain his car when this uninvited someone parks on my driveway? It is an equal trespass upon my property.

Advocates of this new ban, including Lynne Featherstone, the Equalities and Criminal Information Minister, have supported their case by highlighting that many clamped drivers were either unaware that they were parking on privately owned land or unaware of the penalties attached to their decision to park. They argue that it is unfair to hold people responsible for their actions in these cases, because they were not aware of the consequences.

This seems a reasonable position. However, even once we accept it, the proportionate solution is still not an outright ban. If clamping is unfair because people do not have adequate information, we need only mandate landowners to provide adequate information (say, in the form of a visible sign reading ‘Private Property- parked cars will be clamped’) to make clamping fair.

That this is a superior policy option is obvious. Drivers not warned of the penalties would not return to clamped cars and landowners could still protect their property against intentional trespass.