Theft of blue badges 'trebles in three years'

A sign above a disabled car parking bay Image copyright Getty Images

The number of blue badges for disabled drivers stolen in England has more than trebled in three years, according to the Local Government Association.

The LGA said there were 2,056 cases of theft recorded in 2015 compared with 1,756 in 2014 and 656 in 2013.

Prosecutions for using stolen or lost badges to park for free dishonestly nearly trebled in the last five years.

Blue badges entitle drivers to free parking in pay and display bays and allow them to park in disabled zones.

At least 2.4 million disabled people hold the badges in England, which are issued by local authorities.

Figures 'alarming'

The LGA, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, said the number of people prosecuted for abusing the use of blue badges had increased from 330 in 2010 to 985 in 2015.

Martin Tett, LGA Transport spokesman, said: "The theft of blue badges is clearly a crime on the rise and it is alarming that incidents have trebled in just three years.

"Illegally using a blue badge is not a victimless crime.

"For disabled people, blue badges are a vital lifeline that helps them get out and about to visit shops or family and friends.

"Callous thieves and unscrupulous fraudsters using them illegally are robbing disabled people of this independence."

Some of those prosecuted

Image copyright Getty Images
  • A blue badge fraudster, who used her elderly grandmother's disability permit while she was asleep in her care home, has received fines totalling £1,110 after a prosecution by Portsmouth City Council
  • Six people have been successfully prosecuted for illegally using a family member's blue badge to park in Bath and ordered to pay a total of £6,402 in fines and costs
  • More than 50 drivers caught illegally using blue badges have either been prosecuted - or are in the process of being prosecuted - by Ealing Council in the past 12 months

Blue badges also allow disabled people to park for up to three hours on yellow lines, while in London they exempt holders from having to pay the congestion charge.

They are only allowed to be used when the holder of the badge is driving the vehicle or is a passenger.

Mr Tett added: "To help councils win the fight against blue badge fraud, residents must keep tipping us off about people they suspect are illegally using a badge, bearing in mind people's need for a badge might not always be obvious."

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