Wheel clamping on private land – 'legalised mugging' as the AA calls it – will be outlawed on October 1.

The AA' s president, Edmund King, who has campaigned for legislation to put a lid on the issue since the late '80s, has wasted no time dancing on the grave of the private clamping industry.

"We are delighted that cowboy clampers will have to hang up their clamps in a fortnight," said King.

"Too many clampers have been acting like modern day highwaymen for too long. Many elderly and vulnerable people have been ripped off by these callous cowboys. Clamping has been banned in Scotland since 1992 without problems."

The Protection of Freedoms Act comes into force on October 1, 2012 and will finally make it a criminal offence to clamp a vehicle on private land.

But the AA is warning drivers to remain on their guard – as desperate clampers "drinking in the last chance saloon" try to cash in with a last-minute clamping spree before the ban comes into force.

King, who admits that thwarting the padlock-wielding miscreants has become something of a personal crusade, also highlighted some of the worst clamping cases to come to light – including a clamper who threatened to take a three-year old girl hostage unless her mother coughed up a clamping 'ransom' in Doncaster.

The motoring organisation also quoted the case of a pensioner charged £390 after momentarily parking up on private land to pay a 15p library fine.

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