England

Car park operator UKPC investigated for 'misleading drivers'

UKPC sign
Image caption UKPC is being investigated by the British Parking Association

A car park operator whose staff changed times on photos to wrongly issue tickets is being investigated again following claims it misled drivers.

UKPC was temporarily suspended from using DVLA data to trace drivers' addresses, meaning unpaid fines given during the ban could not be chased.

But the BBC filmed car park attendants claiming people issued tickets during that time would still be pursued.

UKPC claimed staff had misunderstood an email and were now aware of the facts.

The company is being investigated by the British Parking Association (BPA) after the BBC's West Midlands Inside Out programme made it aware of its secretly filmed footage.

Image caption Sarah Gashi received a ticket stating she had overstayed the two hours' free parking
Image copyright Sarah Gashi
Image caption She received photographs of her car in which the time had been doctored by UKPC staff

The BPA investigated UKPC in September 2015 over allegations employees had changed time stamps on photos in Lincolnshire, Staffordshire and Worcester.

BPA boss Patrick Troy said the "thorough" investigation had concluded an expulsion from the organisation "was not warranted".

But he told the BBC: "If there's a repeat of any kind of misbehaviour, that will almost certainly result in expulsion or further suspension."

UKPC was suspended from using the DVLA database to trace drivers' addresses from 18 September to 4 November.

The fresh investigation comes after UKPC had to cancel a number of tickets after what it called an "isolated photograph tampering incident" by "a few rogue employees".

The company said it "condemned" the actions of staff who "took advantage of a software flaw" which had now been updated to stop it from happening again.

Image caption Alex Shipp campaigns as the "Parking Prankster"

Sarah Gashi spent an hour visiting a friend in Diglis Water, Worcester, but received a ticket stating she had overstayed the two hours' free parking.

She asked for evidence and received two photographs of her car - one stamped with 14:13 GMT and another 16:19 GMT.

"I was at my parents' house at 14:20 GMT. I was nowhere near here," said Ms Gashi.

"If you look at the colour of the sky [in the photograph] everything is still the same.

"Whereas to me, it should have got darker at that time of year."

Alex Shipp, who campaigns as the Parking Prankster, came to the aid of Neil Horton who received a ticket while at a Staffordshire supermarket.

Mr Shipp said: "He only parked for a short amount of time, but the pictures are theoretically a couple of hours apart.

"You can see [in the photograph] there's a blue car with its boot open. Was that boot open for two hours? I think not.

"What happened was the photographs were doctored to issue a charge illegally."

Image caption Patrick Troy, from the BPA, said an expulsion from the organisation "was not warranted"

BBC Inside Out West Midlands is on Wednesday 13 January on BBC One at 19:30 GMT and available afterwards on iPlayer.

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