Three blue badges have been cancelled in the last month after Ealing Council parking staff caught drivers using them fraudulently. Blue badges are issued to people with disabilities. They allow blue badge holders to park closer to their home or destination. They must only be used if the person issued with the badge is present.
Blue badge fraud usually involves either friends and family members using the badge when they are not permitted to, or drivers using lost, stolen or counterfeit badges. The fraudulent use of a blue badge is a criminal offence and can result in a hefty fine.
The council took part in a trial operation last year to crack down on blue badge fraud. Following close working between the council, the police, the council’s parking enforcement contractor, NSL, and a specialist company called BBFI, 22 drivers have so far been successfully prosecuted at court.
Of the most recently seized badges, the first was issued by Newham Council and was spotted being used by a van driver making deliveries to an address in Southall. When challenged, the driver claimed to have found the badge and it was confiscated by the officer.
The second Hounslow Council-issued badge was withdrawn after an officer spotted it being used on a car parked in a disabled bay outside a building site in The Avenue, Ealing. When the driver was challenged, the officer saw that the badge had expired and the person it was registered to was not present. Once again, the badge was seized on the spot.
Ealing Council staff noticed the third badge being used fraudulently at several addresses in Southall. Although the driver has managed to evade civil enforcement officers so far, Buckingham County Council, who issued the badge, has cancelled it and it will be taken away at the first opportunity.
Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet member for transport and environment, said: “Blue badges are issued to people who face real difficulty in getting around and are often a lifeline. When fraudsters selfishly use these badges to block spaces that are not intended for them, they make it even harder for people with disabilities to go about their daily business.
“Last year’s joint operation was a success, both in terms of prosecutions and in raising the level of awareness and training amongst our staff. Anyone using a blue badge fraudulently should know that our staff are looking out for them and will take every opportunity to enforce the law.”