Blue Badges are issued to disabled motorists who need to park in a convenient spot, allowing them to leave their cars in pay and display bays for free, stop on yellow lines longer than other drivers and be exempt from London’s congestion charges.
However, a new report from the Local Government Association (LGA) shows many motorists are using these badges in a fraudulent manner, something which councils are increasingly prosecuting for.
Chairman of the LGA’s economy and transport board Peter Box explained:
“Blue Badge fraud is a crime that robs disabled people of their independence and ability to get out and about in their own cars and park more easily to visit shops of family and friends.”
He added that it was “shocking” how some drivers would carry out this fraud, giving examples of motorists using badges belonging to dead relatives, or leaving disabled people trapped at home.
Figures from the LGA show that councils are attempting to crack down on this fraudulent use of Blue Badges, with the number of successful prosecutions reaching 686 in 2013, which is more than double the 2010 total of 330.
Councils including Plymouth, Hull and Stoke-on-Trent have all recently secured their first prosecutions for Blue Badge fraud, while the local authority in Manchester has dealt with many cases over the past five years, with a 100 per cent conviction rate for 500-plus badge-related crimes.
In addition, over 140 people were prosecuted in Sussex, where investigators discovered motorists had changed information on badges, copied them and some had even stolen them.
Leeds City Council has changed the way it deals with the fraud, previously sending letters to those abusing the scheme, but is now using tougher measures, which have already led to 73 prosecutions since September 2013.
A range of people have been found guilty of Blue Badge fraud, with Wandsworth Council prosecuting an estate agent, a lawyer and an architect for the crime within the last 12 months.