UPDATED JUNE 2013

Several Codes of Practice (COPs) are published for use in connection with the civil enforcement of parking and traffic management.

The contents of COPs and guidance documents are not automatically enforceable in the same way as the statutory Regulations.  However, they have been created for the purpose of ensuring the proper management of parking and traffic as intended by Parliament (of which the DfT is a Department) and as intended by the statutory authorities which created them.

Too many council Enforcement Authorities (EAs) wrongly do not fully comply with them as completely as they are required to do.

Statutory Guidance – Parking Enforcement

On the coming into force of the Traffic Management Act 2004 on 31st March 2008 various Guidance and COP documents were produced. Section 18 of the Act imposes a duty on enforcement authorities: they must have regard to any guidance published by the ‘national authority’ (which is the Secretary of State for Transport).

The Secretary of State’s Statutory Guidance to Local Authorities on the civil enforcement of parking contraventions was published on 28th February 2008.

Some misbehaving enforcement authorities wrongly argue that this is not law but ‘merely guidance’ which they are free to disregard.  The guidance itself is not mandatory (as are Regulations) but parking adjudicators have made clear at parking appeals that EAs must demonstrate that they have had regard to the Guidance (which is mandatory) and show why they have chosen not to follow it – if they have not done so.

DfT Parking Enforcement Guidance

In March 2008 the DfT published an extensive guidance document (116 pp) on the objectives, principles and requirements of proper civil enforcement: Operational Guidance to Local Authorities: Parking Policy and Enforcement.

It includes the essential requirements for every authority newly seeking to commence civil parking enforcement that they must first confirm to the DfT that all current traffic orders fully conform with legal and all other requirements and also confirm that all parking-related traffic signs in their area, without exception, are lawfully as prescribed or as authorised otherwise.

It is a sad commentary on civil parking enforcement that some Enforcement Authorities who acquired enforcement powers since March 2008 dishonestly applied for enforcement powers by confirming the legality of their situation in their full knowledge that it was not in proper order.  EAs have been granted civil enforcement powers despite some of their traffic orders being defective and their traffic signage being unlawfully non-compliant.

Traffic Signs Guidance

The DfT has for many years published extensive guidance on the correct and intended in two separate publications.

The first is an immensely valuable inexpensive handbook available from all booksellers: ‘Know Your Traffic Signs‘.  The September 2010 edition is also accessible online.

More comprehensive is ‘Traffic Signs Manual‘  which comprises 8 separate Chapters each on the different aspects of traffic signage.  The Manual is guidance and, where any conflict arises with the statutory TSRGD (as it does in one or two places), then the Regulations determine the law and not the Manual.

The Traffic Signs Manual – Chapter 1 – Introduction (1982 updated 2004) provides a history and overview of some applicable law. Section 3 of Chapter 1 (Legal Aspects and Responsibilities for Signs) at Section 1.15 makes clear the 1984 Act prohibition of any sign or road marking that is not as prescribed by TSRGD or authorised otherwise.  Section 3 includes:

  • 1.12 A full and comprehensive guide to the legal aspects of traffic signs is outside the scope of this manual. Legal matters are dealt with only briefly in this section.
  • 1.13 Highway Authorities are responsible for ensuring correct standards of signing on their roads; only they can erect traffic signs or permit their erection. The Police also have certain responsibilities which are described later.
  • 1.14 In England and Wales however (excluding Scotland), it is the local authority which may not necessarily be the highway authority, which is responsible for erecting and maintaining waiting restriction and speed limit signs and for establishing pedestrian crossings in their area.
  • 1.15 Authorities may only use signs (including carriageway markings) of a size, colour and type prescribed or specially authorised by the Secretary of State. The prescribed signs are included in The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002.

The two other chapters of relevance to signage relating to civil enforcement on the highway are Chapters 3 and 5:

Non-prescribed traffic signs

Sections 64 and 65 of the Road Traffic Act 1984 make clear that the only signs and road markings that may be lawfully placed on the highway are those prescribed by the Traffic Signs Regulations and installed in conformity with the General Directions for the time being in force (the TSRGD) unless they have been authorised differently by the Secretary of State (for Transport).

Authorisation of non-prescribed signs and the Special Directions that allow them to be implemented are made by officers of the DfT on behalf of the SoS.

Many Authorised Signs, together with their associated Special Directions for implementing them, have been authorised to individual highway traffic authorities for use at specific locations.  A complete listing is provided in: Traffic Authorisations.

There is also a related DfT publication: Area-wide Authorisations and Special Directions Guidance Note. This refers to non-prescribed traffic signs authorised for use anywhere within the area of a given highway authority.

Guidance on signage Amendment Regulations

The DfT published in February 2012 a ‘Traffic Advisory Leaflet' (new name for guidance): TAL 01/12 – The Traffic Signs (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations and General Directions 2011.  It provides extensive guidance on this Amendment Regulations and on the prior TSRGD Amendments issued since 2002.

Signs policy

The DfT published a Traffic Signs Policy Paper in October 2011: Signing the Way. It reviews many aspects of traffic signing especially developing requirements.

As part of a Policy Review it relates to an extensive report of May 2011: Research Project into the Awareness of the Meaning of Traffic Signs. Many commonplace traffic signs are illustrated together with the research findings that (unsurprisingly) many drivers do not correctly understand them. This indicates to NMAG that more money should be spent on national traffic signage education (currently zero) to achieve better compliance with restrictions and much less money being taken in penalty charges in consequence.

CCTV Guidance & Codes Of Practice

The DfT published on 28th February 2008 Version 1 of their guidance: Certification of Approved Devices (COAD), Approved Devices being the entirety of each CCTV camera and operating system.
A list of the Approved Device Certifications that have been issued is published by The Vehicle Certification Agency which, like the DVLA, is a subsidiary agency of the DfT.
‘London Councils’ (the association of the London boroughs) published in December 2009 for voluntary adoption by the 33 boroughs version 3.3 of their Code of Practice for CCTV Enforcement Cameras in London boroughs.

Camera surveillance of moving traffic had been in force long before the advent of CCTV surveillance of civil parking and traffic contraventions, particularly for the purpose of speed monitoring.  The development of camera observation for non-speeding safety enforcement then followed in relation to other moving traffic situations including jumping of red traffic lights and other dangerous situations which are subject to police-enforced endorseable offences. The DfT published in January 2006 their Handbook of Rules and Guidance for the National Safety Camera Programme for England and Wales for 2006/07.

The various traffic signs published in the TSRGD relating to cameras were all introduced for and remain for the warning of these safety camera operations.  They are not prescribed by TSRGD or usable for the warning of CCTV surveillance of civil parking and traffic contraventions.

The surveillance of the public and their vehicles engages the Data Protection Act which must be complied with by all enforcement authorities.  Guidance on all aspects of CCTV surveillance is set out in the Information Commissioner’s CCTV Code of Practice.

Guidance Relating To Enforcement On Private Land

In relation to parking on private land enforced by Private Parking Companies (PPCs) the DfT published in September 2012 Guidance on s. 56 and Schedule 4 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012: Recovery of Unpaid Parking Charges.

DVLA Guidance

Vehicle taxation classes

The (extremely complex and almost bizarre) structure of vehicle classes used for Vehicle Excise Duty (‘car tax') purposes together with related information is set out in a comprehensive DVLA guidance document V355/1 published September 2012.

Driving licence endorsements

Comprehensive guidance on licence endorsement, penalty points, and disqualification rules are published on a Government website.  Full guidance on all other driver issues is also available.

London Parking & Traffic Guidance

These matters are controlled by ‘London Councils' which is the association of all 33 London boroughs.

Penalty Charge & other enforcement notices

Enforcement of parking and moving traffic restrictions from commencement of the Traffic Management Act 2004 on 31st March 2008 required many new enforcement notices to be produced by every enforcement authority, including each of the London boroughs, for enforcement activities conducted under the 2004 Act.   Every enforcement notice issued under this Act must and does state at the heading that it is issued under the 2004 Act.

A major objection to this Act is the irrationality that every enforcement authority is free to devise its own enforcement notices instead of being required to issue notices containing nationally-prescribed texts. The only requirement is that they must all comply with the specifications prescribed by the TMA Regulations of 2007.

London Councils devised a set of model enforcement documents (templates) and issued them to every London borough as recommendations of appropriate document wordings believed to be compliant with the Regulations. It remains that every enforcement document, however worded, must comply with the 2007 Regulations.

Regrettably and inexcusably some notices such as PCNs devised and issued by some boroughs that chose inexpertly to re-phrase parts of the model notices do not comply with the Regulations as some parking appeals have confirmed.

Footway parking in London

Guidance on the default situation of prohibition throughout London of parking/partial parking on footways, and exemptions for certain streets, is set out in London Councils Guidance.

Heavy Goods Vehicles in London

Night-time and weekend restrictions apply in London to HGVs exceeding 18 tonnes Gross vehicle Weight.  This is governed by the London Lorry Control Scheme which is described in London Councils Guidance.  The authorisation for this Scheme is provided by a London Councils Traffic Management Order.

The Highway Code

The Highway Code, which is applicable in England, Scotland and Wales is available as a small booklet from most bookshops. It is also conveniently accessible and helpfully indexed on-line.

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