• £1.07 billion of fines were handed out after drivers were caught by ANPR parking cameras in the last 12 months alone, with £2,030 generated every minute
  • In one in eight cases when a driver contested a fine, the fine was lifted

New research1 from Churchill Car Insurance reveals an increasing trend for car park operators to install Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras.  In 2019 there was a 61 per cent increase in planning applications for the installation of ANPR cameras compared to 2017, just two years earlier.  ANPR cameras can be seen as being controversial as in some cases drivers have been automatically issued fines when they did not overstay the car park’s time limit, when using the same carpark more than once in a single day, or when drivers didn’t know there was a time limit on free parking.

Between 2017 and 2019 the number of retrospective planning applications, those made after an ANPR camera had been erected, more than doubled2 (106 per cent). More than a quarter (29 per cent) of all planning applications between 2017 and 2019 were retrospective.  Between 2017 and 2019 local councils rejected six per cent of retrospective planning applications for ANPR cameras.

While drivers3 have sought to challenge the legality of parking fines issued after being caught by an ANPR camera when planning permission had not been granted, the  ombudsman service, Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA), has said “The absence of planning permission would not affect the motorist’s ability to understand and keep to the parking conditions. The motorist would still have entered into a parking contract.4

With such a large increase in planning applications for ANPR cameras, it is not surprising that the number of fines issued because of these cameras stands in the millions. On average there are 9.8 million parking fines5 handed out to motorists as a result of ANPR CCTV cameras in non-council car parks across the UK each year.  Motorists paid fees totalling £1.07 billion, with the average cost of a fine standing at £68.90. This is the equivalent of £2.9 million in fines issued every day, or £2,030 every minute.

Jane Morgan, Business Manager at Churchill Car Insurance, said: “Even car parks that appear to be free, such as supermarket and fast food restaurant car parks, increasingly have time limits for parking with ANPR cameras capturing drivers’ details – customers that stay too long are issued with large fines.

“We are urging drivers to be cautious and to take an extra minute to check for signs displaying information about charges and timings when using any car park. It could prevent you from getting caught out and help avoid unexpected expensive fines.”

Overstaying the allotted timeslot was the most common reason Brits received ANPR based parking fines, with 3.4 million drivers (23 per cent) receiving a fine. This was followed by 2.4 million people (16 per cent) who did not realise they were required to pay for the parking and thought it was always free and 1.7 million (12 per cent) who said that they received the fine because the ANPR camera was faulty.

Table one: Top reasons people are given ANPR parking fines at private non-council owned car parks

Reason Proportion Number of UK adults
Over-staying the allotted time slot 23% 3,446,635
Not knowing they needed to pay for parking and thinking it had always been free 16% 2,446,848
It being a fault of the car park e.g. a faulty camera or no parking restriction signs 12% 1,736,473
Parking in the car park multiple times over 24 hours and the camera registering the last exit, so it looked like they had overstayed when they hadn’t 11% 1,736,130
Registering the vehicle registration incorrectly 9% 1,368,130
Driving in and out of the car park quickly and not parking but the camera registering the vehicle as not having purchased a ticket 9% 1,289,199
Not registering the vehicle registration number at all 6% 920,857
The vehicle number plate not being clean or visible 5% 815,616
Not knowing they needed to pay for parking and thinking it was free as everything was shutdown due to COVID-19 2% 368,343

Source: Churchill Car Insurance 2020

Most drivers (27 per cent) that were caught out for this parking misdemeanour were at shopping centres or retail parks, with 20 per cent caught out at the supermarket and a further 20 per cent at hospitals.

When it comes to paying the fines, some are more willing to pay than others. While the majority of people, 30 per cent or 4.5 million, paid the fine straight away as they knew they were in the wrong, more than a fifth (21 per cent) contested the payment, but still had to pay.  In one in eight (13 per cent) cases when the fine was contested it was lifted.