Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has suspended parking enforcement and parking charges at all on-street and off-street locations managed by DfI.
DfI will continue to take action where illegal parking is unsafe or blocking access to emergency or essential services.
Councils have also suspended enforcement and charges in council-managed car parks
Enforcement of parking restrictions
The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) takes responsibility for the enforcement of most parking restrictions.
On-the-ground enforcement is provided by DfI’s contractor, currently NSL Services Group (NSL), who employ the traffic attendants.
Traffic attendants are expected to issue Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), commonly known as parking tickets, to vehicles which are detected as illegally parked.
A penalty charge is not a fine, it's a civil charge owed to a civil authority, that is DfI. This type of enforcement is known as Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE).
Certain offences, such as dangerous parking or parking causing an obstruction, have not been decriminalised and the responsibility for the enforcement of these remains with the PSNI.
NSL Services Group payment and the number of PCNs issued
Traffic attendants are employed by NSL Services Group (NSL). NSL receives no payment which is based on the number of parking tickets (PCNs) issued.
Traffic attendants' payment and the number of PCNs issued
Traffic attendants receive no payment which is based on the number of parking tickets (PCNs) issued.
Reason for parking enforcement
Making money is not an aim of parking enforcement. The aim is to discourage illegal parking by issuing a penalty to those who park illegally.
Money raised by payment of parking tickets (PCNs)
All money raised by the payment of parking tickets (PCNs) is used, along with income from car-parking and other charges, to add to the overall financing of DfI by central government.
DfI’s Parking Enforcement Processing Unit, with its contractor NSL, is responsible for on-street parking enforcement and enforcement within local council car parks. It is not responsible for the provision of parking restrictions.
Enquiries about the introduction of or changes to on-street parking restrictions should be directed to the Traffic Management section within each of the DfI Roads divisions.
DfI has no responsibility for parking restrictions or enforcement action on private ground, for example:
- shopping centre car parks
- supermarket car parks
- hospital grounds and car parks
Footway (pavement) parking
Where parking restrictions are marked on the road, for example yellow lines, those restrictions also apply to the footway (pavement). Therefore parking tickets (PCNs) can be issued to vehicles which are parked in contravention of the restrictions.
Footway (pavement) parking is not permitted at any time along the length of urban clearways and parking tickets (PCNs) can be issued to vehicles parked in contravention.
Apart from urban clearways, there is no general ban on footway (pavement) parking.
Where there are no parking restrictions marked on the road, parking tickets (PCNs) cannot be issued to vehicles on the footway (pavement).
If, however, a problem of obstruction arises as a result of vehicles parked on a footway, that situation is a matter for, and can be dealt with by, the PSNI.
Parking ticket or Penalty charge notice (PCN)
If you get a parking ticket - known as a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) - you will be required to pay £90. However, if you pay within 14 days of getting the ticket a 50 per cent discount will apply and you will only have to pay £45.
This discount is offered because early payments reduce administration costs for DfI.
Keeping streets clear
A lot more effort is being put into keeping the streets clear of vehicles parked in contravention of the restrictions. This will bring about many positive changes, including:
- helping traffic to flow more freely
- helping buses keep to their timetable
- assisting delivery vehicles
- allowing pedestrians to feel safer crossing the road without illegally-parked cars causing obstruction
- keeping parking places reserved for Blue Badge holders for those who need to use them
Clamping and removal
Currently, clamping and removal operations are used for debt recovery purposes, that is where parking tickets (PCNs) have not been paid.
Removal and clamping of illegally-parked vehicles
Vehicles parked illegally in urban clearways and bus lanes on the main roads into and out of Belfast may be removed and clamped.
Enforcement in privately-operated car parks
Landowners such as shopping centres and supermarkets often subcontract their parking facilities to private parking companies, who can charge for parking.
If you have used a private parking place you need to pay for it, and if you have broken the rules you should pay the 'ticket/fine'.
However, if you believe you have been unfairly fined, The Consumer Council can challenge this payment on your behalf.