Police fall victim to clamper
Former Palmerston North man Daniel Clout says he was just doing his job when he wheel-clamped an unmarked police car in New Plymouth.
Two police officers were gobsmacked when they returned from training yesterday to find their car with not one, but three of its wheels clamped.
The officers were training at the New Zealand Cadet Forces building on Gill St when Mr Clout, of Egmont Security, struck about 3.30pm.
The police officers said he told them the car was parked in a private car park, which the police had been unaware of.
"He wouldn't tell us who had notified him," they told the Taranaki Daily News.
The car park in question had a small "private parking" sign on one side, however, whether it applied to the middle row, or far side of the car park, was unclear.
Police felt he had taken things too far and was preventing them from doing their job.
They said they asked him whether he would just send a bill to police and let them carry on, which he refused.
His response was that he didn't care if they were police, he would treat them the same as anyone else.
Police ended up paying the $120 clamping fine and the car was released.
Area Commander Inspector Blair Telford said he would be following up the legality of the clamping with the car park owners.
Despite being in the spotlight on several occasions after clashes with people over clamping, including being found guilty of assault on a German tourist whose van he had clamped, Mr Clout says he doesn't hold a grudge against police.
"I was just doing my job."
In response to yesterday's incident Mr Clout says he was contacted by the private car park owner about a vehicle abusing a paid parking space.
"I clamped the vehicle as requested and was unaware that it belonged to police until they showed up later as it was an unmarked vehicle."
He says the leaseholder was also unaware that it was a police vehicle.
The explanation for three wheel clamps on the police car was to ensure the car remained immobilised until payment.
"This is common practice among other clamping companies," he said.
The professionalism of the police was questioned by Mr Clout after he says one of the officers told him he would never help him if he was in trouble.
"Another officer took my car keys out of my ignition but soon returned them to me after I questioned what jurisdiction she had to take them.
"That same officer had a marked police car in the same car park but I did not clamp this one," he said.
The officer asked Mr Clout to take the clamps off the unmarked car and to put them on the marked police car, he said.
"Clearly they were trying to get me in trouble.
"Later the police also lied and said they had permission to park there," he said.
The clamping comes just a week after roading contractors working on a New Plymouth street were clamped when they moved their truck into a car park at the request of a shopkeeper.
Taranaki Daily News