Why can private parking companies trace drivers through the DVLA's database, but individuals cannot?

There has been correspondence in your column regarding demands for excess parking and other matters on private land, where the only way the company would know the car keeper’s name and address is from the DVLA. What happened to the Data Protection Act?

Some time ago my car was damaged in a car park. Two witnesses gave me a full description and number of the car involved. The matter was reported to the police who were helpful and indeed interviewed the driver to see if a crime had been committed. As it had occurred on private land it was a civil matter. In my enquiries with the police and DVLA I was informed that I could not be told the name and address of the culprit because of the Data Protection Act.

The two matters above seem very similar. It would appear that this act can be circumvented by large powerful companies, for their commercial gain, willing to pay for information, but not in the same circumstances to a private individual.

Asked on 14 October 2010 by PB, Cirencester

Answered by Honest John
Operators of private carparks and their enforcement agencies have obtained an exemption that is explained in the booklet that comes with a V5C registration document. Scandalous. Outrageous. But true. However in your case you did have 'just cause' to pay the DVLA £3 to supply you with the name and address of the keeper of the car. You were wrongly informed.
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