Blue Badge fraud is on the up. Figures show that there are 2.58m of the disabled parking permits in circulation, but 20% of these are abused by people wanting to park somewhere without the messy business of paying.
According to the Local Government Association (LGA), prosecutions of this sort have doubled since 2011 as councils turn their attention to the £46m of cash lost each year.
The LGA ensured we are left in no doubt what it thinks about the practice: “dishonest motorists robbing disabled people of their independence”, “unscrupulous fraudsters”, “shocking how low some people are stooping” – all within the first 280 words of its press release.
The LGA also appears traumatised about some of the people convicted of the offence, as though it was previously thought to be the unsavoury habit of just the lower classes: “Professionals including lawyers and estate agents have all been hauled before the courts by councils in the past 12 months.”
So, don’t harbour dark thoughts about cleaners and bin men; turns out we’re all at it.
“The fight against Blue Badge fraud is being stepped up by councils and we would also urge outraged residents to keep tipping us off about people abusing the system,” fumed Cllr Peter Box, chair of the LGA’s economy and transport board.
The LGA says 500 drivers have so far been brought before the courts by Wandsworth council for robbing their grans of the right to park in the fruit aisle of Sainsbury’s, with Manchester City Council prosecuting a similar number and achieving a 100% conviction rate.
Plymouth City Council brought its first prosecution in 2013, resulting in a woman being fined for using her dead father’s Blue Badge to park for free in a court car park before giving evidence in a trial.
Presumably it wasn’t her Blue Badge fraud trial.
Misuse of a Blue Badge is a criminal offence under the Road Traffic Act 1984, with a maximum fine of £1,000 on conviction.
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