Parking Industry Leaders to Debate Disability Badge Fraud

Top figures in the UK parking industry were yesterday gathered to discuss the issue of Blue Badge fraud at the annual Autumn Seminar of the British Parking Association.
At its annual Autumn Seminar, held in London, the British Parking Association (BPA) led discussion of solutions, creation of proposals and recommendations to combat misuse of the Blue Badge Scheme, which is run by local authorities all over the country. The BPA will make proposals to the Department for Transport (DfT) for potential inclusion into its Statutory Guidance Notes for Parking Management.

From theft of peoples Blue Badge permits to the rising number of counterfeit badges, Blue Badge fraud is a widespread problem and has a huge impact on the people it is set out to benefit:

- Currently 700,000 motorists are abusing the scheme across the UK[1], meaning that there is less space for eligible badge holders

- 5,000 Blue Badges are stolen from vehicles in London each year - which equates to 2% of the total issued in the city. This means that many badge holders are now wary of displaying their badge in some areas, often ending up in a parking ticket being issued.

The BPA is encouraged by the recent introduction of the powers for enforcement officers to inspect Blue Badges and feels this is a good first step in combating the issue of Blue Badge fraud. However the Association is pushing for further Guidance Notes to be provided both to Badge Holders and issuing Authorities. The Association is keen that these notes should be clear and unambiguous as to the entitlement of the Badge, extent of concession and consequences of misuse.

Keith Banbury, chief executive of the BPA said: The Blue Badge Scheme is invaluable to people with mobility difficulties and needs to be managed correctly to ensure that only the correct people are benefiting from it. Enforcement is difficult, as the Badge is issued to the holder and not to the vehicle and this, coupled with the fact that there is no central database for Blue Badge information, creates problems primarily for the user.

Issuing authorities have a variety of mechanisms and administration procedures for issuing badges and many of these will have evolved to combat misuse of the Scheme. If proper guidance is available and the procedures are seen to work in practice, then an opportunity exists for greater consistency in standards, which as well as making things more difficult for fraudsters, will allow shared administrative costs for local authorities.
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