Letter: Police tried to fine me for tyres that were perfectly legal

Josh Harris, who suffers with severe arthritis was made to stand in the cold for 45 minutes by police as they questioned him in the recent joint operation with the IWC and DWP. They then tried to fine him, saying his tyres were below the legal limit. He proved them wrong.

We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers. This one sent to us last week by Josh Harris of Wootton, after he was pulled over by police in their joint operation with the Department for Work and Pension. Ed

I was pulled over in one of these Police ‘Spot Checks’ where they seem to be checking anything and everything about you.

I am registered disabled with quite severe arthritis even though I am only 22 years of age, I also drive a high performance sports car – I have worked for years to pay for it myself as well as insure, maintain and tax it as well as pay crazy amounts to the taxman on fuel duty!

I believe I was pulled over today because of the type of car I drive and the fact I am a younger driver, in no way is this random.

Forced to stand for 45 minutes
I was made to stand out in the cold and wet weather for almost 45 minutes while they did many checks on both myself and my car, questioning things including where I was going and for what reason – why should anyone have to disclose this information?

I was then told my tyre tread was below the legal limit, even though the car passed an MOT three weeks before.

Had the tyres tested
I called their bluff, as I had someone working in a garage within view of where I was pulled over bring a tread measure gauge over, where it was confirmed they were actually on and over in other places the legal limit and not under!

To add to this, tyres had already been purchased and were awaiting fitting on the weekend due to colder weather coming in. I’d been advised that they would probably be over the limit for the MOT this time next year – the car was in no way dangerous as the police were making out!

Thinking on my feet
The outcome of me thinking on my cold, damp feet is that they not only couldn’t get their extortionist recovery company to impound my car but also they couldn’t fine me.

I don’t feel how I was ‘randomly’ pulled over is in anyway right as well as the personal questions asked.

I had to stand out in the cold damp weather and was repeatedly expected to bend down to look at some tyres which turned out to be perfectly legal.

It was not how I was wanting to spend my afternoon!

Image: Steve Garner32 under CC BY 2.0

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Sunday, 16th December, 2012 12:24pm


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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. prewitt parrot

    16.Dec.2012 1:35pm

    Disgraceful Josh, but given the government agenda against the disabled hardly surprising I’m appalled to admit.

    David Pugh:
    “All hard-working, honest Island taxpayers should have nothing to fear from such operations continuing to take place in order to identify the small minority of people who are abusing the benefits system.”

    • Josh this is typical of the police when given absolute power. If you have the collar number of the officer who tried to charhe you make a complaint through the IPCC. Despite its title they are not independent but if you allow them to get away with this they may ensnare someone who is not a s capable as you in proving there innocence.

      • It is the case that those entering the public services are not of the best calibre. A chief constable admitted that many police officers entering the service were a bit thick. A similar situation arises with young ladies going into nursing where their low skill levels make it difficult to cope with the training.

        • “young ladies going into nursing”

          I think you will find that the academic requirements for nursing have risen considerably in recent years, to the extent that you now need a degree (or will do from next September).

          Whether this is a good thing is debatable, as it was formerly considered a vocation, and there used to be a good entry path, with training, for those who simply liked caring for people. They were often rather good at it.

          • Yes, & it sounds as though ‘young ladies’ will per se have ‘low skill levels’! Young women are as intelligent as anyone else, of course. But Brian probably didn’t mean it to come across like that…

          • My reference to “young ladies entering the nursing profession” is a quote from a BBC Radio 4 programme concerning nursing sisters who have undergraduates on the ward as part of their training. They cite these trainess as having poor English and numeracy skills. Rather unfortunate when attempting to write patients’ notes if illiterate, or possibly fatal not knowing the difference between 0.1ml and 1.0ml

  2. You were fantastic Josh, even more so because you were under quite a bit of physical duress throughout.

    I think it entirely wrong for there to be random stops with no prior indication that there might be something illegal about a car. It is potentially disruptive of someone’s private life in all sorts of ways, yet often without cause, it seems.

    That’s bad enough as regards interfering with a person’s journey, but on top of that to ask intimate questions about their life? Get lost!

    I wonder if there was any linking beforehand (or after) of the car, with Josh’s status as registered disabled. A visit to a savvy solicitor might be in order. And / or to the MP….. (I can’t recall if he has spoken about this subject). Josh’s clear & articulate account of what happened is going to make quite an impresson, I should imagine….

  3. martin william wareham

    16.Dec.2012 7:09pm

    Well done Josh so glad you shared your experience with us.Jumped up pip squeak Politicians like Conservative Council leader David Pugh should reflect on their own lives before casting Judgement on others less fortunate.A very good article from Hofton County Press online. Intimidation on this scale has no place in our society.Well done Josh for standing up to the Jackboots but beware of reprisals

  4. I agree that there could be reprisals in the form of further checks on Josh, as the authorities won’t like to have been shown up so effectively & may want to take him down a peg or two. I hope Josh does get a handy lawyer in case he needs his interests protected. Perhaps the Disability Alliance, if still in existence, or some other such organisation, can point him in the right direction.


    16.Dec.2012 9:37pm

    Last week someone wrote a letter to CP alleging that only rusty vans were getting pulled over!

  6. Dennis Firth

    17.Dec.2012 9:22am

    When the DWP conduct an investigation they are bound by the same codes of practice as the police “P.A.C.E.” If you read your codes of practice properly you just might see that the manner in which the operation was conducted would probably be classed as illegal. You cannot just stop and search without reasonable grounds IE, his name, his color, his creed, his appearance or even if a person is known to have been previously convicted of carrying an unlawful article does not give a police officer the right to stop and search. Having the power to stop any person in charge of a vehicle still does not give them the power to search without good cause. If a police officer stops a person that has been seen to allegedly operate a mobile phone and it later becomes apparent that it was a calculator he was looking at or something similar, then the officer loses his power of stop and search and is not allowed to further question that person to find another reason to justify his stop & search.
    These laws were put into place to stop Discrimination in all forms. What Mr. Pugh is saying then is…
    “All hard-working, honest Island taxpayers should have nothing to fear from such operations continuing to take place in order to identify the small minority of people who are abusing the benefits system.”
    I always thought that attacks on minorities were illegal and close to racism. It’s called “Institutional Discrimination”

    Institutional discrimination

    Institutional discrimination is concerned with discrimination that has been incorporated into the structures, processes and procedures of organisations, either because of prejudice or because of failure to take into account the particular needs of different social identities.

    Three features distinguish institutional discrimination from other random individual forms of bad treatment.
    Triggered by social identity: the discrimination impacts on groups (or individuals because they are members of that group).
    Systematic – it is built into to laws, rules and regulations. For example, selection criteria for jobs or courses, laws such as the Minimum Wage, pension regularities, etc. It is reflected in organisational cultures. i.e. ‘the way we do things round here’, including the use of authority and discretion, e.g. how training opportunities are allocated, how flexibility in learning practices is authorised. It is reflected in ways of describing ‘normality’, e.g. long working hours, culture/expectations.
    Institutional discrimination results in patterns: incidents of discrimination may appear isolated or random but where institutional discrimination occurs they are part of a wider pattern of events which often may be hidden. Patterns of discrimination can often be surfaced by effective organisational information relating to social identity. For example:
    • which groups of people get promoted in an organisation?
    • which groups of people get accepted onto a training course?
    • which groups of people leave an organisation after six months of employment?

  7. I do not believe it

    17.Dec.2012 9:34am

    I am not surprised by Josh’s experience given that our island boys in blue, or rather menacing combatitive looking black nowadays, are:-

    (a) not always the sharpest knives in the constabulary drawer
    (b) operating on an island where they are largely immune from current correct political thinking
    (c) not operating in an area like Brixton, Hounslow or Sparkbrook where they might anticipate the populace turning out and telling them to “Foxtrot Oscar”
    and (d) operating in concert with other agencies and thus being all macho and bullying to demonstrate their prowess to their ‘weaker’ colleagues.


    • When I attended teacher training college for Further Education, the lecturers would always illustrate a dense class by beginning with “now suppose you had a class of police cadets…”

      I was surprised at this until I started teaching practise. One day there was this almighty noise coming from a corridor. When I arrived at the scene, two police cadets were knocking hell out of each other with their colleages egging them on.

      When I retired in 2008 the college had a “public services” course for would-be police officers. The “students?” were constantly creating mahem wherever they went. We had security guards in the corrider hovering outside the classroom in case the lecturer couldn’t cope. When I left the guards were put into the class to sit with the lecturer. These morons were awful. To think they would eventually be on the streets stopping the public filled me with dread.

  8. First of all, well done Josh for defending yourself, and I hope the cold wet weather didn’t affect your arthritis too much!
    I have had issue with this ‘fad’ for setting up a virtual roadblock outside Newport FC ground for a while now. In MY opinion the Police (and associated groupies) MUST have a reason to ‘pull you’. They cannot simply do a ‘routine’ stop as these have been illegal for many years, since the Toxteth Riots when Racial profiling meant that any Black person was ‘fair game’! Perhaps our boys in blue on the Island actually think that we live in the 70’s and are exempt from all the safeguards given us over the years, but I can assure you that they are NOT.
    The use of ‘Routine stops’ could reasonably be justified in Northern Ireland a few years ago, AND for terrorism reasons today, but NOT to help out the DWP bods who enjoyed a nicely paid day out at our expense! I assume they linked the ANPR cameras to the DWP and DLA databases to ensure that only potential criminals were pulled over, ie those claiming benefits, or perhaps they used the Island version of racial profiling, or ‘anyone seen near the job centre on signing day’ so that they could nab both those too poor to maintain their cars AND those driving nice cars when they should be too poor to afford them!
    This does sum up certain Islanders opinions of ‘the great unwashed’. When a good friend of mine worked at a Cowes Boatyard he helped may others in the area with boat repairs and advice until that fatefull day that the boatyard closed.. Oh how the sympathies were dished out… for about 6 weeks when he suddenly became a benefit fraud, living the high life on tax payers money, he should be ashamed etc etc etc.. Two years on, over 60 applications, no interviews, too old, wrong skillset etc and now he has to contend with suspicious looks from police and DWP because he bought a new car 6 months before he was thrown on the scrapheap!
    It’s a sorry state of affairs when even those supposed to protect the more vulnerable in society band together in order to try and grind them down a bit more!

  9. I wish the Police would concentrate on solving crime and not in persecuting innocent members of the law abiding public. Of course,us law abiding citizens are easy money for them.Cash cow innocent motorists are easy meat for them.

    • I might also include an observer, living in the vicinity of The Balcony Club in Ryde. He told of disgaceful behaviour by the revellers exiting the place at 2.30am – drunk, fighting, urinating on residents’ property. A group of 8 inactive police officers were standing at a safe distance watching the proceedings.

      He implied cowardice but I could not possibly comment. Motorists going to work are probably a safer bet in this case.

  10. Don Smith

    17.Dec.2012 9:51pm

    Josh! I do so hope that you have made an official complaint.
    Sue them; there are plenty of solicitors who would take up your case on a no win no pay basis. Had they taken you to court, they [Police] would have been believed; they always are. Birds of a feather stick together.

    My wife and I still remember the 31.01.2005 – Less we forget.

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