Tuesday 11 June 2013

It's official. DVLA will charge you £5 to find out if a private parking company accessed your data

If a private parking company wants to access your data from the DVLA they can do so, as long as they pay £2.50.

If you then get a Notice to Keeper from said parking company and want to check that they played by the rules and accessed your data in the timescales proscribed by POFA 2012, then you can write to the DVLA to check this. The trouble is, they will charge you £5.

Thats right! The DVLA will charge you twice as much to access your own data as they did when they gave it away to the private parking company!

They didn't always do this. This internal email trail released by an FoI request explains that they started to do this around 10th April 2013.

Here is the first email, explaining that they don't currently charge for these types of requests, but would like to.
Sent: 05 April 2013 08:55
Subject: FW: Requests from the public
We have a query regarding members of the public obtaining information from the DVLA and what format they should be submitting this in.
Below are the 4 current ways that a member of public can make a request. The main query rests with number 3 – where the public are asking “have we released any data relating to themselves (but not complaining about it)”. The amount of work involved in this can vary depending on how many enquiries have been made and who by. At this time, we don’t ask for any forms to be completed or charge a fee (historic decision). I would be grateful for your views on this and whether we should be asking for a fee for the administrative work of providing details from the vehicle record.
This may or may not be of any relevance but the internet forums are providing standard templates for individuals to email/post in to DVLA requesting this information so the volume of this type of request is increasing. Example attached.
1. Individual requires information from the vehicle record – submitted using a V888 and dealt with by DVRE. Fee for this type of request (£2.50 or £5.00)
2. Individual is complaining that DVLA have released their data and want an explanation - submitted via a letter and dealt with either by DVRE or DST depending on how the data has been released. No fee for this type of request
3. Individual requires information regarding any release of data from the vehicle record – submitted via a letter and dealt with either by DVRE or DST depending on how the data has been released. DVRE will release copies of any manual applications, if specifically asked by the individual. DST will provide customer name and dates of enquiry including reason, if the enquiry was by electronic means. No fee for this type of request.
4. Data Subject Access Request from an individual requesting information held on them by DVLA – submitted via a letter and dealt with by DVRE (with contributions from other DVLA departments. Fee for this type of request (£5.00 for vehicle information, £5.00 for driver information)
Here is the reply from the policy group:

Sent: 09 April 2013 16:42
Subject: RE: Requests from the public
As discussed, and having discussed it with......, Section 7 of the DPA is clear about what constitutes a Subject Access Request, and it includes this:
7(1)(a) Subject to [following provisions], an individual is entitled to be informed ...whether personal data of which that individual is the data subject are being processed by or on behalf of that data controller...
7(2) A data controller is not obliged to supply any information... unless he has received (a) a request in writing, and (b) except in prescribed cases, such he may require.
Therefore, as far as I’m concerned, this constitutes a Subject Access Request and we are entitled to see that in writing with the fee of £5 before we process it, under current legislation.
 And here is the decision to start charging:
Sent: 10 April 2013 09:09
Subject: FW: Requests from the public
Good morning all,
I have had a response on this matter from Policy (below).
They have stated that these types of enquiries (scenario 3) should be treated as Data Subject Access Requests. Therefore, submitted in writing and with the relevant fee attached. I don’t know if an update is needed to the OI’s as this could be classed as BAU but you may feel that something should be included.
Happy to discuss

So, are you stuck with paying the £5? The Prankster thinks not. You only need to pay the £5 if you want to do all the legwork around checking the PPC sent a compliant request. If you suspect that the request was not indeed compliant, then the DVLA are more than happy to check that for you for free. Obviously, it will cost them far more than just sending you the information you wanted in the first place, but that's bureaucracy for you! And to be fair to the DVLA, they actually would prefer to do the legwork for you. If you do the work yourself, chances are the DVLA would never hear about the improper behaviour of the parking company. As public servants, the DVLA are actually quite keen to hear about cases where parking companies try and bend the rules, so what better way for them to gather and collate the information if they are doing the investigating themselves.

Lets look at that first letter again.
2. Individual is complaining that DVLA have released their data and want an explanation - submitted via a letter and dealt with either by DVRE or DST depending on how the data has been released. No fee for this type of request
Parking Companies give you an address to write to if suspect the DVLA have acted improperly, which is:
Release of Information
Paying Enquiries Section
SA99 1AJ

Or you can just get this address from the back of the parking charge notice.

You should therefore write something along the lines of:

Dear Sir,
I have received a parking charge notice (copy enclosed).  As you can see from the notice the parking company is trying to pursue the registered keeper. However I have reasonable grounds to believe that they did not comply with the procedures and timescales required. [Insert grounds here]. I therefore believe my data has been used inappropriately. Please can you therefore investigate and report back to me.

Reasonable grounds would include:

  • the date of the notice being received close to a deadline date
  • you have been issued a parking charge before and suspect they are using the same details without requesting from the DVLA a second time
  • you suspect they are using details from another parking company
  • you have information that the parking company used similar dodgy practices in the past

Obviously, if you don't have grounds for suspicion you would not need to write in the first place. We're not talking about drowning the DVLA with requests here; only those instances when you think something fishy is happening with the parking company.

[Edit 6/7/13 Tracy Kiss shows us all how to do it here]
Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

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