Consultation on Penalty Charge Notices for Parking Enforcement

Portrait of Transport Minister Graeme DeyMinisterial foreword from the Minister for Transport, Graeme Dey MSP

Since 1997, 21 local authorities in Scotland have introduced decriminalised parking enforcement regimes into their areas. These regimes enable local authorities to administer their own parking policies and penalty charge schemes to control on-street parking.

I believe parking policies are an essential part of a local authority’s traffic management strategy as they are designed to effectively manage the traffic network, improve and maintain traffic flows whilst reducing congestion.

The integration of enforcement powers and parking policy enhances a local authority’s accountability to its residents, through better monitoring of the effectiveness of the parking controls in place to ensure that their parking policy is responsive to public needs.

However, parking has become a contentious issue across our towns and cities as we seek to improve the country’s health and encourage active travel whilst making our streets more accessible for all.

It’s encouraging to see increased rates of cycling in Scotland, but we know that some people who previously used their private vehicle to travel may be even more reliant on their vehicle now as a result of COVID-19. In addition, measures to encourage active travel through the Spaces for People initiative may have temporarily impacted on-street parking options. To that end, an effective parking enforcement regime is critical to managing to keep Scotland moving (and parking) effectively.

Over the last two years we have been working to improve parking legislation in Scotland by introducing provisions within the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 that will ban pavement parking, double parking and parking at dropped kerbs, thereby tackling the impact of inconsiderate and obstructive parking. These changes will impose new duties on local authorities to enforce these new provisions.

For enforcement to be effective, penalty charges for parking in breach of the prohibitions need to be set at an appropriate level.  This is why the Scottish Government is seeking your views on proposals that relate to the Government’s existing guidance on penalty charge levels and also the amount of the penalty charge for the new parking prohibitions which in the future will be set out in regulations.

Respond to the consultation online

About this Consultation

Consultation is an essential part of the policy making process. It gives us the opportunity to seek your opinions. This consultation details issues under consideration and asks you questions about what we are proposing. After the consultation period closes we will publish responses, (where we have been given permission to do so).

Responses will be analysed and used as part of the policy making process, along with a range of other available information and evidence. Responses to this consultation will help to inform the Scottish Ministers about how traffic regulation order procedures are viewed.

Response Methods

We are inviting responses to this consultation by 4 October 2021.

Responding Online

You can respond using the form on the Scottish Government’s consultation hub, Citizen Space.

Please complete the Respondent Information Form.

You can save and return to your response at any time while the consultation is open. Please ensure that your response is submitted before the consultation closes at midnight on 4 October 2021.

You will automatically be emailed a copy of your response after you submit it. If you choose this method, you will be directed to complete the Respondent Information Form, which lets us know how you wish your response to be handled.

Responding by Email

If you are unable to respond using our consultation hub, please complete the Respondent Information Form before midnight on 4 October and send to:

Responding by Post

If you are unable to respond electronically, please complete the Respondent Information Form and post to:

Penalty Charge Notice Consultation
Road Policy Team
Transport Scotland
4th Floor Buchanan House
58 Port Dundas Road
G4 0HF

Handling Your Response

If you respond using the consultation hub, you will be directed to the About You page before submitting your response. Please indicate how you wish your response to be handled and, in particular, whether you are content for your response to published. If you ask for your response not to be published, we will regard it as confidential, and we will treat it accordingly.

All respondents should be aware that the Scottish Government is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and would therefore have to consider any request made to it under the Act for information relating to responses made to this consultation exercise.

If you are unable to respond via Citizen Space, please complete and return the Respondent Information Form included in this document.

To find out how we handle your personal data, please see our privacy policy.

Next Steps in the Process

Where respondents have given permission for their response to be made public, and after we have checked that they contain no potentially defamatory material, responses will be made available to the public online. If you use the consultation hub to respond, you will receive a copy of your response via email.

Following the closing date, all responses will be analysed and considered along with any other available evidence to help us. Responses will be published where we have been given permission to do so. An analysis report will also be made available.

Comments and complaints?

If you have any comments about how this consultation exercise has been conducted, please send them to the contact address provided above or at:

Scottish Government Consultation Process

Consultation is an essential part of the policymaking process. It gives us the opportunity to consider your opinion and expertise on a proposed area of work.

You can find all our consultations online. Each consultation details the issues under consideration, as well as a way for you to give us your views, either online, by email or by post.

Responses will be analysed and used as part of the decision making process, along with a range of other available information and evidence. We will publish a report of this analysis for every consultation. Depending on the nature of the consultation exercise the responses received may:

  • indicate the need for policy development or review
  • inform the development of a particular policy
  • help decisions to be made between alternative policy proposals
  • be used to finalise legislation before it is implemented

While details of particular circumstances described in a response to a consultation exercise may usefully inform the policy process, consultation exercises cannot address individual concerns and comments, which should be directed to the relevant public body.


The Road Traffic Act 1991 introduced provisions enabling the decriminalisation of most non-endorsable parking offences in London and permitted similar arrangements to be introduced elsewhere throughout the UK. The relevant provisions of the 1991 Act were commenced in Scotland in June 1997 and, to date, 21 out of 32 Scottish local authorities have obtained Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE) powers.

Under the scheme, participating local authorities administer their own parking penalty schemes including the issuing of Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) to motorists breaching parking controls in specified areas. The DPE regime seeks to ensure that parking policies are implemented effectively and the underlying objective of DPE operation should be to achieve 100% compliance with parking controls and therefore no penalty charges.

In areas with DPE, stationary traffic offences cease to be criminal offences enforced by the police and instead become civil penalties imposed by local authorities. Enforcement of certain parking offences such as obstructive or dangerous parking remains the responsibility of Police Scotland. 

Parking policies are an essential part of a local authority’s traffic management strategy, especially when considering any potential rise in the use of private vehicles throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and should be designed to manage the traffic network effectively, improving or maintaining traffic flow and reducing congestion. This improves road safety and the local environment and encourages, where appropriate, increased use of more sustainable and healthy forms of travel.

The integration of enforcement powers and parking policy should enhance local authority accountability to its residents for overall parking policy, as well as enabling better monitoring of the effectiveness and value of parking controls to ensure that such parking policy is responsive to public needs. Income from on-street parking enforcement is not an additional revenue source for local authorities but is used to finance their parking enforcement procedures. A breach of parking rules within an area where DPE is in force will require payment to the local authority of a penalty charge.

Current levels for Penalty Charge Notices

Under section 74 of the Road Traffic Act 1991, as amended by the Orders designating the permitted and special parking areas in the local authority area, it is the duty of the local authority operating DPE to set the levels of additional parking charges to apply in the parking area and they are to accord with any guidance issued by the Scottish Ministers in respect of the levels of parking charges. This guidance may be given specifically to the local authorities generally and may be varied at any time. When setting the level of PCN, a local authority should set the level to ensure maximum compliance with parking restrictions

Currently the Scottish Government guidance dated 10 April 2001 is based on the Local Authority Circular 1/95 'Guidance on Decriminalised Parking Enforcement outside London', which sets out the procedures local authorities outside London in England and Wales must follow when applying for DPE powers. Scottish local authorities have used this guidance when creating decriminalised parking regimes within their local authority areas.

Paragraph 4.19 of the Circular sets out the amounts payable by a motorist issued with a PCN by a local authority as follows:

  • Time period 1: Paid within 14 days
  • Time period 2: Paid between 15 days and service of Notice to Owner (NtO)
  • Time period 3: Paid between issue of NtO and service of Charge Certificate
  • Time period 4: Paid after service of Charge Certificate
Level of PCN Time period 1 Time period 2 Time period 3 Time period 4
PCN £50 £25 £50 £50 £75
PCN £60 £30 £60 £60 £90

Table 2: Penalty Charge Notice Levels

Those amounts are discounted by 50% if paid within 14 days or increased by 50% if certain follow-up enforcement action is required.

Other penalty notices, not considered within this consultation that can be obtained for parking offences are Fixed Penalty Notices. Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) for parking offences (issued by Police Scotland in non-DPE areas under the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988) are an initial amount of £30, rising to £45 if certain follow-up enforcement action is required.

However, local authorities have in recent years expressed concerns about the level of the PCNs, which had been initially been considered as part of a review in 2010/11. At present, all 21 local authorities who are operating DPE regimes are using the highest charge level in operation (£60 discounted to £30 if paid within 14 days).

Localised anecdotal evidence from Transport Scotland’s engagement with stakeholders on parking issues, including compliance of existing parking restrictions found that in some cases motorists may in effect be treating the PCN as a “parking charge” and writing off the cost for undertaking recreational activities or attending events, where e.g, all the passengers of a vehicle contribute towards the cost. Other respondents highlighted that the level of the charge may be insufficient to deter re-offending with some providing examples of motorists receiving multiple PCNs in a single day. This consultation therefore provides an opportunity to explore how compliance varies across Scotland and what the appropriate PCN levels should be for existing parking restrictions enforced under DPE regime.

2010/11 Review Decision

The primary purpose of penalty charges is to encourage motorists to comply with local authorities’ parking policies and regulations. In pursuit of this, local authorities should be adopting the lowest charge level to ensure compliance.

However, as mentioned earlier in this document, in 2010 the Scottish Government received representation from five out of the six local authorities who were operating DPE at the time, in which they sought an amendment to the guidance to allow them to increase the level of the PCN. 

In addition, the local authorities also asked that a new banding system be introduced, which allowed local authorities to issue PCNs at the higher rate of £80 (reduced to £40 if paid within 14 days). This would result in an increase of £20 or £10 if paid within 14 days from the current level per PCN issued. However, the five local authorities also suggested that it would be prudent to consider at least one higher band (£100 – discounted to £50 if paid within 14 days), which could be utilised in future years should the need arise.

A consultation on the proposals was sent to all 32 Chief Executives of the Scottish local authorities and other interested stakeholders, including Police representative bodies and the British Parking Association (BPA) in March 2010. A total of 24 responses were received, of those 50% of respondents supported the proposals compared to 33% who were against the proposals. Those respondents who were against the proposals, highlighted a number of issues, including lack of evidence to justify the increase in penalty charges.

Due to the lack of evidence at that time to support the call to increase penalty charge levels, the Scottish Government decided not to change the levels at that time. However, due to increased calls for another review, we are now seeking views on the appropriate level of PCN for parking contraventions in DPE areas.

Provisions within the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019

The Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 which received Royal Assent on 15 November 2019 was a multi-topic Act covering low emission zones, bus services, smart ticketing, parking, work-place parking levies, National Transport Strategy, road works, Regional Transport Partnerships and Canals.

The Act introduced new parking prohibitions to tackle pavement parking, double-parking and parking at dropped kerbs. The Act places a duty on local authorities to enforce these new prohibitions. It also includes provisions to enable local authorities to exempt streets from the pavement-parking ban, but only if they meet strict criteria specified in a direction made by the Scottish Ministers under section 67(1) of the Act. These criteria are currently being developed in collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders.

During the policy development of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019, we recognised that there might be circumstances in which it is necessary or expedient for motor vehicles being used by certain bodies, or in certain circumstances, to park on pavements. The Act therefore includes provisions, which allow certain vehicles, such as emergency vehicles, delivery vehicles, vehicles being used for road works, etc. to park on the pavement for a limited period, so long as no obstruction is caused.

In our ‘Improving Parking in Scotland’ public consultation, published on 31 March 2017, we noted there was overwhelming agreement (85%) on the need for a consistent approach to parking enforcement, particularly in areas where DPE does not currently operate. There was however differing opinion on how we achieved this.

Proposals for a shared “parking warden service” were well received with local authorities pointing out that this solution may fill the void left by Police Scotland when they withdrew their national traffic warden service following a review of how parking enforcement was being conducted in 2013. The Act therefore includes provisions to enable local authorities to share services with neighbouring authorities or third parties to ensure that the parking prohibitions within in the Act are effectively enforced.

This consultation therefore also seeks stakeholders’ views on what the level of the penalties should be for the new restrictions contained within the Act.

The Proposals

Contravention codes

To enable local authorities to effectively enforce the parking prohibitions in DPE areas, we are seeking your views on the following proposals. Every decriminalised parking contravention has a code and description.

These codes are used throughout the process, from the issuing of the PCN through to the final stage of the appeal and are set out in the Local Authority Circular 1/95, which is used by Scottish local authorities. An example of some of these are in table 3.

Standard PCN Codes v6.7 On-Street

Code Description

Differential Level

01 Parked in a restricted street during prescribed hours Higher
02 Parked or loading/unloading in a restricted street where waiting and loading/unloading restrictions are in force Higher
04 Parked in a meter bay when penalty time is indicated Lower
05 Parked after the expiry of paid for time Lower
06 Parked without clearly displaying a valid pay & display ticket or voucher Lower
07 Parked with payment made to extend the stay beyond initial time Lower
08 Parked at an out-of-order meter during controlled hours Lower

Table 3: Standard PCN Contravention Codes for On-Street Offences

The use of these codes to indicate the types of contraventions has standardised the administration of decriminalised parking enforcement (DPE) in Scotland. However, there is no approved list of contravention codes for Scotland.

Currently local authorities in Scotland use the list of contravention codes in the Parking and Traffic Regulations Outside London (PATROL) website for simplicity, which takes account of the codes contained within the 1/95 Circular.

Creating an equivalent list of contravention codes

In Scotland, we wish to adopt our own arrangement, which is similar to that currently operating in England and Wales. In England and Wales, they list the higher-level contraventions in the Civil Enforcement of Road Traffic Contraventions (Guidelines on levels of charges) (Wales) Order (2013/1969) and the Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (Guidelines on Levels of Charges) (England) Order (2007/3487).

Those Orders do not include specific contravention codes, as the codes are listed in guidance. In our case, these would be listed in our Parking Standards guidance. This approach would enable us to create a Scottish equivalent of list of codes, which we would be able to amend more quickly and easily through guidance.

We would propose to align the list with the English and Welsh Councils’ list for consistency, unless there was a good reason to deviate.

A full list of the higher and lower contravention codes for England and Wales is available.

The list of the proposed higher contravention codes in Scotland are as follows:

Code Description Differential Level
01 Parked in a restricted street during prescribed hours Higher
02 Parked or loading/unloading in a restricted street where waiting and loading/unloading restrictions are in force Higher
12 Parked in a residents’ or shared use parking place without clearly displaying either a permit or voucher or pay and display ticket issued for that place Higher
14 Parked in an electric vehicles’ charging place during restricted hours without charging Higher
16 Parked in a permit space without displaying a valid permit Higher
20 Parked in a loading gap marked by a yellow line Higher
21 Parked wholly or partly in a suspended bay/space or part of bay/space Higher
23 Parked in a parking place or area not designated for that class of vehicle Higher
25 Parked in a loading place during restricted hours without loading Higher
40 Parked in a designated disabled person’s parking place without clearly displaying a valid disabled person’s badge Higher
41 Parked in a parking place designated for diplomatic vehicles Higher
42 Parked in a parking place designated for police vehicles Higher
45 Parked in a Taxi rank Higher
46 Stopped where prohibited (on a red route or clearway) Higher
47 Stopped on a restricted bus stop or stand Higher
48 Stopped in a restricted area outside a school, a hospital or a fire, police or ambulance station when prohibited. Higher
49 Parked wholly or partly on a cycle track Higher

Table 4: Table of higher contravention codes

Question 1: Do you agree with the proposal to create a Scottish equivalent of the contravention codes?

  • Yes
  • No

Please explain your choice.

Higher and Lower Charge System with increases to PCN levels

In practice, we understand that local authorities in Scotland currently use the higher band for enforcing parking contraventions. Although there was a review of penalty charge levels in 2010/11, these have not risen since 2001.

The penalty charge is used to deter motorists from contravening parking regulations, but at £60 (reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days), this may not be a sufficient deterrent.

As local authorities appear to be only using the higher charge band, we are proposing to introduce a Higher/Lower charge system. The proposed costs are described in the following table.

The proposed levels below also take into account of inflation since PCN levels were set in 2001. There are two proposals in relation to this:

Proposal (a): This option is broadly in line with inflation costs equivalent to 2021 only. It should be noted that we are proposing a £40 fine in the table below when considering inflation, the cost would be £37.

Proposal (b): This option is based on inflation costs with an uplift to provide more of a deterrent.

  • Time period 1: Paid within 14 days
  • Time period 2: Paid between 15 days and service of Notice to Owner (NtO)
  • Time period 3: Paid between issue of NtO and service of Charge Certificate
  • Time period 4: Paid after service of Charge Certificate
  Current Level of PCN Time period 1 Time period 2 Time period 3 Time period 4
  Lower PCN £25 £50 £50 £75
  Higher PCN £30 £60 £60 £90
Proposal (a) Lower PCN £40 £80 £80 £120
  Higher PCN £50 £100 £100 £150
Proposal (b) Lower PCN £50 £100 £100 £150
  Higher PCN £60 £120 £120 £180

Table 6: Increase in PCN Levels Proposals

Question: Do you agree in principal that PCN levels should be increased?

  • Yes
  • No

Please explain your choice.

Question: We have set out two proposals, (proposal (a) and proposal (b)). Which one do you prefer? If you do not prefer (a) or (b), please select (c).

  • Proposal (a)
  • Proposal (b)
  • (c) - None of the above

Please explain your choice. If you have chosen (c), please offer an alternative proposal if possible.

Introduction of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 parking prohibitions

We propose that the following parking contraventions contained within the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 will be subject to the equivalent of the higher level PCN. This would be contained in Regulations made under the 2019 Act:

Prohibition Description of Higher Level Contraventions
Double Parking Parked more than 50cm from the edge of the carriageway
Parked at a dropped kerb Parked adjacent to a dropped kerb where the kerb has been lowered or the carriageway raised so that the kerb meets the level of the carriageway
Pavement Parking Parked with one or more wheels on any part of road other than a carriageway (footway parking) and not within a designated parking space

Table 5: Additional higher level contraventions

Question:  Do you agree with our proposals to place the new provisions within the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 as higher level contraventions (Double Parking, Parking over a dropped kerb and Pavement Parking)?

  • Yes
  • No

Please explain your choice.

Question: Do you anticipate any potentially negative implications of the proposed changes to the PCN levels?

  • Yes
  • No

If yes, please explain.


Published Date 4 Aug 2021 Mode of transport Status