Figures obtained by a Labour MP show that the amount of fines charged by private car parks has increased more than fourfold in the last five years.

Nick Smith, MP for Blaenau Gwent, discovered that fines have increased from £21 million to £93 million during this period. His research followed a string of complaints from constituents about a car park run by Excel Parking Services. The most common complaint about private car parks revolves around machines which require drivers to enter their number plate details. Many drivers report having paid for their parking, but still getting a fine because the number plate details had not been entered correctly.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror, the MP said, " I do not believe that British drivers are becoming less law-abiding.

"Drivers want to pay what they owe, but in too many cases this is made too difficult by parking companies.

"Some motorists believe that some car park operators are only interested in penalising the motorist at every single opportunity for the most trivial infraction of their contractual terms and conditions because that's where they make their money."

Excel said in a statement: "Great attention to detail is taken when specifying sign schedules for car parks managed by Excel Parking and every effort is made to position such signs in the most prominent user friendly locations."

Apparently the number of requests made by private car parks to the DVLA for driver details (without which they cannot issue fines), rose from 272,215 in the year 2006-2007 to 1,167,713 in 2011.

It certainly seems a bit unlikely that the British public is four times as likely to try and evade legitimate parking fees as it was five years ago.