More than 80 people have been taken to court in the last 18 months for illegally using blue badges issued to disabled residents to make it easier for them to park their cars.
Ealing Council’s ongoing crackdown has seen 88 offenders successfully prosecuted since April 2021.
It marks a busy period, which also saw the council’s fraud investigation team inspect more than 3,000 blue badges and seize more than 80 for suspected misuse. Dozens of penalty charge notices have been issued against vehicles misusing blue badges – and six of these vehicles were impounded.
What is a blue badge?
Blue badges allow drivers who need extra help to park closer to their home or destination and can be issued to disabled drivers who need extra help, including those with mobility issues or those who face challenges planning journeys, for example, people with autism.
They can only be used by the named badge holder and must be displayed when the badge holder is traveling in the vehicle as a driver or passenger, or by a person who has dropped off or is collecting the badge holders.
Punishment for using them fraudulently
It is a criminal offence for anyone else to use a blue badge in any other circumstances. Misuse can result in a maximum fine of £1,000, a criminal prosecution and even a prison sentence.
The council’s blue badge enforcement officers regularly patrol the borough catching drivers who misuse blue badges. They work with the department of transport to identify cancelled stolen badges, take them out of circulation and prosecute individuals who display them.
Watch out for thieves
Residents are also being asked to remain vigilant following reports of recent thefts of blue badges from vehicles in the borough.
The council is working with the police who investigate and anyone who thinks they might have been a victim of a crime is urged to report it to the police in the first instance.
Despite this, local people are advised not to remove their badges from vehicles as the council enforces all permits in the borough including blue badges. Photocopies of blue badges are not acceptable and would be considered as fake.
Misuse of badges is breaking the law
Councillor Deirdre Costigan, the council’s cabinet member for climate action, said: “We want to ensure that blue badges are available to the people who really rely on them for support. That is why we always take tough action against people who commit fraud.
“Our officers inspect and investigate in streets and town centres across the borough tracking down cases of misuse, taking fraudulent blue badges off our streets and fining and prosecuting individuals found to be breaking the law.
“People may think they are doing no harm if they quickly use a blue badge that does not belong to them, but what these drivers need to realise is that they are usually blocking someone with mobility problems from being able to park and are breaking the law.
“We will continue to work alongside the police to tackle misuse and fine and prosecute offenders wherever possible.
“We have seen an increase in thefts of blue badges in the borough recently. We urge local people to stay alert and report anything suspicious to the police.”
Support and advice on displaying a blue badge correctly can be found on the government’s website.
Report misuse, or apply for permits
Residents who suspect someone of using a blue badge fraudulently, or who would like to report a blue badge as being lost or stolen or let the council know that the circumstances of the badge holder have changed, should call 020 8825 8161.
The council has a disabled permit scheme in place whereby holders can apply for a disabled bay permit and would not need to display their blue badge when parked in a controlled parking zone (CPZ). Further details can be found on the council’s website.
If a permit holder wanted to park in any residential parking space within their CPZ without the disabled badge, they would need to apply for the free residential permit as well.