Disabled parking passes: Architects named as the worst for 'blue badge fraud'


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The Independent Online

Architects are the worst “blue badge abusers”, according to figures from the Local Government Association (LGA).

Unscrupulous abusers have been caught using a dead relative’s pass or leaving a disabled parent stuck at home in order to park for free to go shopping or travel to work, the LGA said.

Blue badge fraud prosecutions have doubled in three years, with professional people such as lawyers and architects leading the offenders.

There were 686 successful council prosecutions in 2013, up from 330 in 2010 as councils cracked down on offenders.

More than two million disabled people use blue badges for free parking in pay-and-display bays and parking for up to three hours on yellow lines through the nationwide scheme. In London, badge-holders are exempt from the congestion charge.

The LGA said Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Plymouth Council and Hull City Council recently secured their first prosecutions against fraudsters while Manchester City Council has a 100 per cent conviction rate with more than 500 prosecutions in the past five years.

Councils are also using new powers to seize and confiscate badges suspected of being used illegally and some have set up specific enforcement teams to tackle blue badge fraud.

Peter Box, chairman of the LGA’s economy and transport board, said: “It is shocking how low some people are stooping in order to con a few hours of free parking, including using a dead relative's blue badge or leaving a disabled parent trapped in their home.

“Councils are determined to do everything in their power to protect the quality of life for our disabled and vulnerable residents.”

Use of a blue badge by an able-bodied person carries a fine of up to £1,000, but one in every 200 badges is stolen each year.

It is estimated that 20 per cent of all blue badges in circulation are abused but fewer than 3,000 frauds were detected in 2012-13 partly because of the man hours required by councils to detect frauds.

Pop satirists Half Man Half Biscuit immortalised the practice with the song Blue Badge Abuser. Describing a “no-good fraud”, its lyrics went: “The space was empty, who's to complain/And if they did, I'd say I'm due for the op/And sprint wilfully off to the shop/'Cos I'm a Blue, Blue Badge Abuser.”