Councils failing to tackle blue badge abuse as number of thefts soars

Figures show 45 per cent rise in stolen disabled parking permits

Tom Batchelor
Monday 31 December 2018 11:13
Blue Badge permits extended to those with hidden disabilities in 'transformational' move

Most councils are failing to prosecute motorists for misusing disabled parking permits – despite a significant rise in thefts of blue badges, figures show.

More than three in five local authorities in England took no action against people caught falsely using the permit in 2017-18.

Disability campaigners said a failure to act against perpetrators was “disgraceful”.

Phil Talbot of disability charity Scope said: “Stealing blue badges isn’t a crime without consequences. They are a vital lifeline for those who genuinely need them.”

Ninety-four of 152 English local authorities (62 per cent) did not pursue anyone for abusing the blue badge scheme since last year, according to Press Association analysis of Department for Transport data.

Of those, 31 councils did not catch a single person, despite claiming to have a policy of prosecuting offenders.

Similar research two years ago found 40 per cent of councils were failing to punish drivers who misused blue badges, suggesting the problem is getting worse.

Local authorities in Nottingham, Middlesbrough, Shropshire, Luton, Milton Keynes, Bournemouth and Reading were among those to record zero prosecutions last year.

Almost every case involving the 1,215 prosecutions which were launched involved drivers using someone else’s blue badge.

The number of blue badges reported stolen increased by 45 per cent year-on-year to 4,246.

Around 2.4 million disabled people in England have blue badges, which are issued by councils.

Adults who are disabled or have a health condition that affects their mobility – or those who care for a child with a health condition that affects their mobility – are eligible for the permits.

They allow holders to park free of charge in pay and display bays and for up to three hours on yellow lines, while those in London are exempt from the congestion charge.

Those convicted of misusing a blue badge face a fine of up to £1,000.

Martin Tett, transport spokesperson for the Local Government Association, representing councils, said: “Councils have to take tough decisions on targeting limited resources on enforcement.

“Gathering evidence and mounting a prosecution can be time-consuming and expensive but councils know their areas and are best placed to decide the most effective way to tackle it.”

Mr Tett claimed the disparity in enforcement levels across the country is likely to reflect “different levels of pressures on available parking”.

He added that people can help fight blue badge fraud by tipping councils off about suspected offenders.

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