The Happy Clampers; Believe It or Not, the Scourge of Britain's Motorists Are Being Sent on Courses to Learn 'Empathy and Conflict Management'

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Byline: MARTIN DELGADO

ALL Britain's car clampers are to receive lessons on how to be more human, Ministers have ruled.

The notoriously thick-skinned clampers - whose past outrages include trying to hold a three-year old girl hostage while her mother went to the bank for money to pay her 'fine' - will be taught listening techniques, how to be assertive rather than aggressive and the meaning of empathy.

The courses will be compulsory for all of the estimated 3,000 clampers in Britain from next year. Firms that do not send their employees on them will not be granted a licence and will not be legally allowed to operate.

The bill for the courses, about [pounds sterling]300 per person, will be met by clamping companies. But they are expected to pass the costs on to the people who employ them - often local councils.

A source at one firm that runs parking services for several local authorities said: 'The cost will be borne by the contractor but will inevitably be passed on to the council and ultimately taxpayers.' The clampers will also have lessons on 'communication skills and conflict management' and learn how the legal requirements of the Race Relations, Sexual Discrimination and Disability Discrimination Acts affect their work.

The courses are being organised by the Security Industry Authority, set up by the Government to control cowboys in the security industry. The authority - the responsibility of Home Office Minister Hazel Blears - has already spent nearly [pounds sterling] 26million of taxpayers' money this year and has 122 staff. But it has no real powers to prosecute rogue operators who terrorise motorists.

Instead it is relying on a code of practice and the new 35-hour training course.

Tory transport spokesman Damian Green said: 'This is laughable. You couldn't make it up. The Government promised action three years ago and nothing has happened to put the rip-off merchants out of business. …