Blue Badge misuse prosecutions up 18% in one year

By Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent

Prosecutions of motorists for misusing disability parking permits have risen by nearly a fifth in the past year, new figures show.

The Department for Transport said there were 1,432 Blue Badge prosecutions in England in the year ending March 31, up 18% on the previous 12 months.

Nearly all of the cases involved someone using another person’s badge.

Just 66% of England’s local authorities say they have a policy for prosecuting over misuse of the scheme.

AA president Edmund King said: “The one-fifth increase in fraudulent Blue Badge prosecutions from last year shows that more areas are finally starting to tackle the issue.

“However, it’s shocking that only two-thirds of councils have a policy to prosecute those who abuse the system by using another person’s badge.

“Councils without a policy must get their act together for the sake of the millions of Blue Badge holders who genuinely need them.

“Drivers must also show some more humanity and stop abusing the system.”

Ceri Smith, policy manager at disability equality charity Scope, said Blue Badges are “an absolute lifeline for disabled people”.

She added: “Abusers need to realise that every time they illegally use a Blue Badge, they risk depriving someone who genuinely needs it.”

Around 2.3 million disabled people in England have a Blue Badge.

Depending on the location, the permits often enable holders to park free of charge in pay-and-display bays and for up to three hours on yellow lines, while in London they exempt holders from the Congestion Charge.

The scheme’s eligibility criteria was extended in August to include people with hidden disabilities.

It was the biggest change to the Blue Badge scheme since it was introduced in 1970 and makes it easier for people with conditions such as anxiety disorders or brain injuries to travel.