POLICE were called more than three times a day to disputes over cars being clamped in Hounslow last year, new statistics reveal.
Cops dealt with a total of 1,136 incidents involving wheel-clampers during 2009, according to figures obtained by the Chronicle. They ranged from clampers being threatened or attacked by angry motorists to drivers complaining about their treatment by 'rogue' firms.
The figures reveal the depth of feeling about clamping in Hounslow, with just 908 such calls made to police in Kingston and Richmond combined during the same period.
The hotspots were Heston West, with 315 calls during the last two years, Heston Central (226) and Hounslow Central (210).
Superintendent Andy Morgan, of Hounslow Police, said officers were most often called upon to prevent a breach of peace following a dispute between the two parties. He added that he didn't think Hounslow had a 'massive problem' with wheel-clampers.
Lavoisier Fernandes' car was clamped in Cavendish Parade, opposite Hounslow West tube station last August. The 29-year-old successfully challenged the £320 fine at court but is still waiting for a refund more than six months later.
He said he was not surprised by the number of calls made to police and claimed many wheel-clamping firms were only interested in generating profit.
"These figures give you some idea about how much money these companies must be generating," he added. "There needs to be some sort of independent authority to sort out disputes over wheel-clamping."
A spokesman for Regional Clamping Services (UK), which covers Cavendish Parade, said it had been operating in Hounslow for many years but the number of threats made to staff had risen significantly in the last four or five years.
"The first words out of their (drivers') mouths are often 'I'm going to kill you'," he said. "People think there's a big profit margin but there's not. We have a lot of overheads. We've done everything we can to make it clear people can't park in Cavendish Parade, putting up more signs and clearly marking the private bays."
The Government recently announced plans to form an independent tribunal for disputes over wheel-clamping, impose a cap on fines and require wheel-clamping firms to register with the Security Industry Authority. The proposals are part of the Crime and Security Bill currently going through the House of Lords.