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Report highlights council failings over Blue Badge fraud

Report highlights council failings over Blue Badge fraud
24th January 2019 Ian Streets

Local authorities are coming under pressure to prosecute offenders who misuse disabled parking permits after a study found more than three in five are failing to act.
Analysis by the Press Association of data from the Department of Transport revealed that 94 of 152 local authorities in England did not pursue anyone for abusing the Blue Badge scheme during 2017–18.
The study reported that the theft of Blue Badges increased significantly, up 45 per cent to 4,246. However, the number of councils which failed to impose punishments was also up, from 40 per cent two years ago to 62 per cent.
The Press Association research, which was widely published in the media, found that almost every case involving the 1,215 prosecutions which were launched arose from drivers using someone else’s Blue Badge.
Local authorities in Nottingham, Middlesbrough, Shropshire, Luton, Milton Keynes, Bournemouth and Reading were among those to record zero prosecutions, and the report says 31 councils which claim to have a policy of enforcement didn’t catch any offenders at all.
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.
Phil Talbot, Head of Communications at Scope said: “Stealing Blue Badges isn’t a crime without consequences. They are a vital lifeline for those who genuinely need them.”
Martin Tett, transport spokesperson for the Local Government Association, 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 added that the disparity in enforcement levels across the country is likely to reflect “different levels of pressures on available parking” and he said that people can help fight Blue Badge fraud by informing councils about suspected offenders.

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