Open University law student wins battle against police over car seizure

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By Thomas Connelly on

Officers failed to comply with regulations, investigation finds

Image credit: The Radio Scout

A law student who went head-to-head with his local police force has emerged victorious after an investigation found that officers failed to comply with regulations when seizing his car.

Open University undergrad Harry Prosser filed a complaint against Essex Police after they seized his vehicle outside a shop in the seaside town of Dovercourt on 8 January due to “insufficient proof of insurance”, Gazette News reports. A subsequent investigation found this not to be true.

Prosser, 23, accused Essex Police of “oppressive conduct or harassment, excessive use of force, failures in duty and breach of the stop and search act when his car was taken from him”.

The law student, who was left without his car for over two months, also claimed he lost his job at Home Bargains after the incident.

The LLB-er’s complaint prompted an internal investigation which found that officers did not comply with the regulations and that he should receive a letter of apology, as well as formal confirmation that he has not been reported for having no insurance.

It also advised that the police officer in charge at the time attend a number of refresher training sessions covering topics including stop and search, the report adds.

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“I’m pleased it’s been proven I wasn’t doing anything wrong but at the end of it I still suffered a loss based on failings of the police,” Prosser said. “The incident has stopped me from getting out and about and I suffered with mental health, so it resulted in me not going to work and losing my job.”

He said it took him seven weeks to source the relevant proof of ownership documents for the vehicle and that he eventually signed ownership over to the car storage company “because it was way too expensive for me to recover it”.

Prosser — who told Legal Cheek he hopes to pursue a career as a criminal defence lawyer upon completion of his studies — continued:

“I was incurring £20 per day in storage fees, which after seven weeks it adds up to quite a bit,” he said. “I paid two months of insurance when I wasn’t even using the car, so in total I suffered £1,400 in damages for insurance and the loss of the car.”

A spokesperson for Essex Police said: “We take complaints against our officers very seriously and can confirm we have been in contact with Mr Prosser regarding the outcome of our investigation into his complaint. However it is not appropriate for us to comment further.”

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