A tale of woe about how the DVLA treat your information.

Six monthly report of the DVLA’s Interim Chief Executive

January 2013

In a Freedom of Information (FoI) request https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/unlawful_release_of_data

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) confirmed that it made data available, in England and Wales, in accordance with the requirements of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (PoFA). The FOI response from DVLA read

Paper channel

Enquiries that are submitted using a V888/3 application form are checked by clerks within the DVLA. Part of this check involves checking the date of the enquiry and the date of event to help make a decision on whether the information requested can be released. This process requires the car parking company to state whether the purpose of the request is to issue a parking charge or to chase up payment of a parking charge. The relevant time scales are then considered.

Any enquiries submitted outside of the requirements of PoFA 2012 would be rejected.

 

Electronic Channel

a. Enquiries submitted via the electronic channel are not subject to these checks as the enquiries are checked by . Electronic enquiries may only be submitted in line with the contract between the DVLA and the customer and these enquiries must be submitted in accordance with PoFA 2012.

b. If it transpires that enquiries have been submitted outside of the requirements of PoFA 2012, the DVLA will investigate this matter and take any action deemed necessary.

By April we had to retract that policy

Action Required: Check if the Data Sharing Team has advised all Private Parking Companies (PPCs) / British Parking Association Limited (BPA) of this change of policy

February 2013

Following another FoI, the DVLA internal operating instructions, for data processors dealing with V888/3 applications for data, read ”If the car parking company need the data to issue a parking charge notice (as they use an ANPR system to manage the site) they can apply within 28 days of date event”. DVLA advised by a registered keeper that this conflicted with what the PoFA actually said and should have read 14 days.

For six months the DVLA had been processing manual applications for data incorrectly.

Action Required: Send Data Sharing Team on course on how PoFA works

March 2013

BPA changes to the Code of Practice (CoP) come into effect. We do not have any say over changes but can be consulted if the BPA considers it appropriate

DVLA Internal Instructions for dealing with V888/3 applications amended by the deletion of offending paragraph

DVLA had been making data available outside of the PoFA timescales and cases were submitted to the DVLA that PPCs were then unlawfully pursuing keeper liability. DVLA promptly changed its January position having decided to now issue data regardless of the requirements of PoFA, leaving PPCs to pursue recovery either in accordance with PoFA (if they had data within the 14 day period) or by the old fashioned, pre PoFA ways if they got their data late.

Action required:

(1) Check with the Data Sharing Team if they have yet communicated this change of Policy

(2) All staff in the Data Sharing Team to go on another course on how PoFA works

(3) Consider whether we should try and start vetoing any changes to the CoP. After all we have said that compliance with the CoP is one of the robust safeguards we have in place to ensure that registered keeper’s data is processed fairly and lawfully so we should have some control.

April 2013

DVLA decides not to continue with PoFA within its business operations despite the January assurances. From now the DVLA will make data available as and when it can. If that is within PoFA time scales, the PPC can pursue enforcement under POFA. If data is made available outside of PoFA then the PPC will have to pursue enforcement as they did before the Act came into effect.

Action taken:

(1) With no approval of this change of Policy from the Department of Transport (DfT) – see if retrospective approval can be secured.

(2) Check with the Data Sharing Team if they have yet communicated this change of policy

May 2013

1. Allegation made by a PPC and a leading firm of Solicitors in the South of England that an Officer of the DVLA had confirmed to them that it was acceptable to send out a Notice to Keeper under the provisions of PoFA outside of the 14 day statutory period. The PPC duly sent out the Notice and that is now the subject of an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

2. DVLA had been making data available outside of the PoFA time scales (Note: DVLA changed its January position having decided to issue data regardless of the requirements of PoFA – see April). Complaints were submitted to the DVLA that Observances Parking Consultancy Limited; Park Direct UK Limited; Premier Parking Solutions, Excel, G24 and Proserve Enforcement Solutions were unlawfully pursuing keeper liability due to their failure to meet the conditions in PoFA. Such failures were for out of time Notices to Keeper and other reasons.

3. BPA were asked whether Observances Notices were PoFA complaint and they confirmed that they were even though they did not identify the creditor. DVLA accepted this response

Action required:

1. Check with the Data Sharing Team whether they have yet communicated this change of Policy to the BPA/PPCs

2. Suggest that the BPA organises seminars for PPCs on how PoFA works

3. Ask the Data Sharing Team if there is any plausible reason why the parking companies should not be suspended.

June 2013

1. BPA changes the COP again so it looks like this may be a quarterly occurrence. This time it makes a retrospective change. The original code operated from October 2012 to March 2013. Version 2 operated from March to June 2013. Version 3 now operates from June and according to the BPA web site version 1 is no longer applicable so that the March version now applies back to October 2012. One appellant, who has based her appeal on the Code applicable in November 2012, now finds that those rules, which protect her from being sued, have now been altered in favour of the PPC and the PPC has started enforcement proceedings after a period of seven months without any contact with the registered keeper. If the public find out this may appear wholly improper.

2. Robert Toft (Head of DVLA Data Sharing Team), in October 2012, stated, “DVLA carries out a number of checks on all companies wishing to make fee paying enquiries via an electronic link” He went on to confirm just what the DVLA checked by saying- “For private car parking companies, photographs of the type of signage in place and a copy of the parking charge notices and literature used are required

Under a Freedom of Information request during the first week of June (https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/checks_made_on_ppc ) the DVLA said “DVLA can confirm that since the implementation of PoFA in October 2012 we have checked the notices issued by every new PPC. DVLA have also checked the notices issued by all PPCs who were already under contract with us, however some of these checks will have occurred before October 2012.

By the 18th June the DVLA had changed its mind and denied that it had undertaken any checks and even commented “No, we haven’t written specifically to all PPC’s since the introduction of PoFA in order to check their notices. This isn’t part of DVLA’s remit but is a function of the BPA.

Under a Freedom of Information request at https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/162331/response/401161/attach/2/FOIR3440%20Angus%20Gill.pdf it can be seen that by the 20th June the DVLA had changed its mind again and confirmed that it was a DVLA function was to undertake an audit of PPCs and which includes checking their Notices. In that FOI there is evidence that the DVLA auditor checked the Notices of G24 but failed to spot that they were not PoFA compliant

3. On the 17th June 2013 the DVLA said “Where a company requests data outside of the 14 day period for ANPR-run car parks set out in the Protection of Freedoms Act, they are still entitled to receive this data under the reasonable cause provisions provided that they do not use it to exercise the keeper liability powers in Schedule 4 of POFA, and only use it to pursue payment through other channels in accordance with the conditions and deadlines set out in the BPA Code of Practice.

A registered keeper linked this statement to the following instruction, from the DVLA to the BPA, on the 14th June 2012 “Can the BPA send out a message to all members of private parking schemes (contract law basis) that if the DVLA is advised and provided with evidence of any company making any reference to liability by anyone other than the driver we will immediately suspend access to our data for a minimum of three months. This applies to tickets, signage and any correspondence with a keeper.

DVLA was then reminded that Observances Parking Consultancy Limited; Park Direct UK Limited;
Excel, G.24, Premier Parking Solutions and Proserve Enforcement Solutions were each making reference to registered keeper liability when the PoFA did not apply and asked whether any action had been taken against them.

CEL Ltd was later added to the list of PPCs who were sending out notices claiming keeper liability but whose notices were not PoFA compliant.

Action Required –

(1) To ensure that the Data Sharing Team speaks with one voice, preferably one that tells it as it is rather than how they would like it to be

(2) Data Sharing Team not to consider the potential loss of income as part of a range of factors when considering whether to suspend a company

(3) Send the auditor on a training course on how to identify missing conditions in PPC’s Notices to Keeper

(5) Check that Data Sharing Team have been on a course on how PoFA works

(6) Data Sharing Team to be asked how long it normally takes to suspend a Company who has breached the COP and claimed Keeper Liability when it is not lawful to do so.

All in all, it’s been a pretty poor first six months of the year for the DVLA. The one saving grace is that all of this took place on the watch of the former Chief Executive and not on mine!

 

Signed – Malcolm Dawson MBE

Interim Chief Executive – DVLA

This report was written as a joke. Sadly, all of the facts contained within it are true, apart from the “Actions required” as I have no idea if the DVLA has considered what action to take in respect of the various incidents. Perhaps it is the DVLA which is the Joke?

 

Thanks to the writer of this post who wished to remain unnamed.

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1 Comment

DarcusJune 24th, 2013 at 3:40 pm

I’m not sure if it is relevant, but the DVLA as of last week, are renewing their investigations in regards to a complaint I made to them over a year ago in relation to Task Enforcement, on behalf of Camden Council, making numerous (approx. 10) requests for details of ‘ownership’ of my vehicle, which was already in their pound, in order to sell the vehicle. TE/NSL have already stated in writing that this was the reason for the requests, which I believe to be unlawful, given that the DVLA does not hold details of owners and therefore had no legal right to release vehicle details and took no steps to advise TE/NSL that they did not hold such information. I’ll keep you updated on their response.

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