United Kingdom

Police say they pulled Taser on footballer because his number plate had been cloned by a criminal 

A Bradford City footballer was pulled over by police and handcuffed in the street because his new Range Rover's number plate had been cloned by a criminal, officers said.

Ben Richards-Everton, 28, claims he was followed by West Midlands Police for ten minutes before being confronted outside a parade of shops in Sutton Coldfield last month. 

He said officers approached him after he left a store, claiming they had intelligence there were drugs and firearms inside his car. Mr Richards-Everton was then handcuffed as cops searched his black Range Rover. 

A Taser was drawn by an officer during the incident, which police claimed was due to the 'intelligence around potential firearms' within the stopped vehicle. 

West Midlands Police has now admitted criminals may have cloned Mr Richards-Everton's legitimate number plate, which triggered an alert and wrongfully linked the vehicle to illicit activities.   

The force said it believes 'that the number plates, which sparked the suspicion, are cloned.' Number plate cloning is often carried out to mask the identity of a stolen car, or hide illicit behaviour.

This is the moment Bradford City footballer Ben Richards-Everton, right, had a Taser drawn on him during a stop and search in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands

Mr Richards-Everton had purchased the Range Rover from a reputable car dealer and had only owned it for three weeks at the time of the incident, he said.    

In a statement, West Midlands Police added: 'Officers on patrol in Sutton Coldfield spotted a car which flagged up with warning markers for drugs and firearms.

'The car parked up and officers approached the driver in Walmsley Road just after 6pm on June 24.

'The driver was detained while officers carried out a search of the car. Nothing was found in the car and it’s now thought that the number plates, which sparked the suspicion, are cloned.

The officer, right, warned Richards-Everton, left, that he was going to be handcuffed during the search

West Midlands Police claimed there was intelligence associated with the car's number plate

'The man was advised of the reason for the search and he was released with no further action.

'Given the intelligence around potential firearms one of the officers drew a Taser. It was put away shortly after without being used.'

Richards-Everton's girlfriend, who filmed the incident, had asked why he was being handcuffed and why an officer was pointing a Taser at him. 

During the video, the footballer is heard questioning the reason he was pulled over. He said it was 'disgraceful... when I'm fully legal? What cos I got a nice car?

'You pointing a Taser at me?'

The footballer is considering making a formal complaint against West Midlands Police following the incident.  

Mr Richards-Everton, pictured, told officers that his car was 'fully legal' 

It comes as the police watchdog is launching a probe into whether officers across England and Wales racially discriminate against ethnic minorities. 

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) review will focus on the use of force and stop and search amid tensions over the police's handling of recent cases that have been caught on camera.

West Midlands Police has now admitted criminals may have cloned Mr Richards-Everton's legitimate number plate

IOPC director general Michael Lockwood said a review will be launched in the coming months, with a race discrimination focus 'to establish the trends and patterns which might help drive real change in policing practice'.

He said: 'Evidence of disproportionality in the use of police powers has long been a concern which impacts on confidence in policing, particularly in the BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) communities.

'But even with the numbers and the statistics, particularly from stop and search data, we still need to better understand the causes and what can and should be done to address this.

'In the coming months, we will be launching race discrimination as a thematic area of focus to establish the trends and patterns which might help drive real change in policing practice.

'Thematic case selection involves independently investigating more cases where racial discrimination may be a factor in order to develop a body of evidence to identify systemic issues which should be addressed.'

Mr Richards-Everton, pictured, said he is considering taking action against West Midlands Police after he was handcuffed while he was stopped and searched

British sprinter Bianca Williams was stopped and searched by police on July 4 outside her home. Police pulled over the Mercedes and took Ms Williams and her partner Ricardo dos Santos. The couple were travelling with their infant son

 Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick recently apologised to athlete Bianca Williams for the 'distress' caused by a stop and search.

A video of the incident, which saw the Great Britain sprinter and her partner Ricardo dos Santos pulled from their car in a London street, was posted online by former Olympic 100m champion Linford Christie.

How criminals clone car number plates 

Cars can be given the identity of another by replacing the number plates with those from an almost identical vehicle.

Criminals would look for cars which are the same make, model and colour.

This is often done to mask the true identify of a stolen vehicle, or to avoid parking tickets, speeding fines and congestion charges.

In this case, any fines earned by the cloned car would be sent to the true owner.

Plates can be physically stolen or purchased from suppliers, in which case the thieves would not ever need to come into contact with the car being cloned.   

Source: AA 

Mr Lockwood, who noted the IOPC only sees a small number of cases where discrimination is alleged, said: 'Initially we will focus on investigating more cases where there is an indication that disproportionality impacts the BAME community, including stop and search and use of force.

'We will also be investigating more cases where victims from BAME communities have felt unfairly treated by the police.'

This could include whether the police are treating allegations of hate crime from BAME people seriously, and if there are cases where they are failing to treat them as victims of crime.

The Guardian reports that the Met receives more than 250 complaints alleging racism on average each year, and less than one per cent are upheld.

Mr Lockwood added: 'Increasing our focus on investigating cases where racial discrimination may be a factor means we will be able to really look at these encounters between the police and the public to identify any emerging themes. We can than see if there is a need to change policing policy or practice.

'This is about identifying where we are seeing good and bad practice, and where there are then opportunities to drive real learning and change.

'We know this is an issue of community concern. Our police forces can only police effectively with the trust and confidence of the community they serve.' 

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