A crackdown on the illegal use of disabled parking permits, known as blue badges, has resulted in 26 being seized by council officers since July.
Blue badges are issued to people with serious mobility problems and disabilities. They allow people who need extra help to park closer to their home or destination and must only be used if the person issued with the badge is present.
Blue badge fraud involves either friends or family members using the badge; or drivers using lost, stolen or counterfeit badges. This blocks disabled parking spaces and takes them away from the people who really need them. The fraudulent use of a blue badge is a criminal offence and can result in a hefty fine of £1000 as well as a criminal prosecution.
Acting on information from civil enforcement officers (CEOs) and reports from members of the public, council officers are challenging drivers who are using badges fraudulently and seizing them where they can. Cases are also being passed on to the council’s legal team for prosecution.
One of the seized badges was issued by Southwark Council and had been recently cancelled after its elderly owner had died. An investigator spotted the badge being used fraudulently in Ealing Broadway. When the driver was challenged they admitted that they knew the owner had died and the badge was confiscated. The case has been referred to the council’s legal team.
To help cut down on blue badge theft, the council has introduced a disabled parking permit for residents who have been granted a disabled parking bay. This allows them to park in a residential disabled parking bay overnight without having to display their badge in their car.
Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet member for transport, environment and leisure, said: “Blue badges are issued to people who face real difficulty in getting around and are often a lifeline. When fraudsters selfishly use fake or stolen badges to block spaces that are not intended for them, or use a relative’s badge without them being present, they make it even harder for people with mobility issues to go about their daily business.
“We are increasing the pressure on blue badge cheats and are catching fraudsters red-handed. Anyone using a blue badge dishonestly should know that our staff are looking out for them and will take every opportunity to enforce the law.”
If you suspect someone of using a blue badge fraudulently, or to report a blue badge as being lost or stolen, call 020 8825 8161.