Clamper says police used 'bully tactics'

HANNAH FLEMING
Last updated 05:00 14/11/2012
CLAMPED AS REQUESTED: Daniel Clout, of Egmont Security, says he was unaware he had clamped an unmarked police car until the officers turned up.
CAMERON BURNELL/Fairfax NZ
CLAMPED AS REQUESTED: Daniel Clout, of Egmont Security, says he was unaware he had clamped an unmarked police car until the officers turned up.

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In the four years he has worked as a clamper, Daniel Clout says he has never clamped an emergency services vehicle and never would.

"I have seen numerous marked police vehicles and the occasional fire appliance parked in private car parks.

"In the four years I have worked as the clamper I have not clamped an emergency vehicle. I would never clamp an ambulance," he said.

Mr Clout, of Egmont Security, wheel-clamped an unmarked police car after being alerted by a tenant who leased the car space from Ekdahl Properties.

Police officers had been training at the New Zealand Cadet Forces building when they saw their car being immobilised.

Mr Clout yesterday said he stood by his decision.

"The officers were at training, not attending a callout, and there was no need for them to park in someone's leased car park."

He said he had no intention of holding the police officers up and had expected the matter to be resolved quickly.

"The police chose to drag the matter out by using bullying tactics to try get me to unclamp the vehicle without payment," he said.

Area commander inspector Blair Telford said police were continuing to follow up on the legalities of Mr Clout's actions.

He would not elaborate further on the incident or how the police officers responded.

New Zealand Security Association chairwoman, Bronwyn Paul, felt Mr Clout had taken the appropriate action when clamping the police car.

She said because it was not an emergency situation, police could have been more diligent in identifying whether it was a public car park.

"The police are a professional organisation, who at times work under extreme conditions.

"Having an immobilised car is not ideal in the event of an emergency situation, but fortunately this time the police were involved in a training exercise, not an emergency."

Ms Paul said when property and lives were at risk, it was important that emergency services were allowed access to parking.

"For members of the public and contractor trucks, however, being clamped is not taking things too far. People often sign a car park lease and pay substantial rent and are entitled to full use of that car park without hindrance," she said.

Had it been one of her security personnel, Ms Paul said she would have expected them to do the same as Mr Clout, but in a professional way.

"I'm not sure how professional the relationship was between the police and Mr Clout."

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Ekdahl Properties owner Paul Ekdahl said he had received a phone call from his tenant on Monday, who was very upset about not being able to park.

"They had to go down the street and pay for a car park somewhere else when they already pay for one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."

Mr Clout's authority to work as a wheel clamper is still under scrutiny after he signed a voluntary code of conduct for wheel clampers that came into effect on October 1.

That requires clampers to hold a Certificate of Approval from the Justice Ministry which Mr Clout said he was in the process of getting.

His name does not appear on the ministry's public register of people who have applied to obtain a property guard's licence or a certificate.

Mr Clout was recently found guilty of assault on a German tourist whose van he clamped, and Ms Paul said he would struggle to get his clamping licence with an assault charge to his name.

- Taranaki Daily News

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