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Blue badge abuse is out of control


The abuse of disabled parking passes is “out of control” with more than half of the blue badges in some parts of the country being used illegally, officials have warned.

Credit: Article from The Telegraph by David Harrison 19th September 2010

Image: Around 2.5 million blue badges are in issue, suggesting that the number being used fraudulently may be in excess of a million

In Leeds, a city council investigation found over 60 per cent of badges were being misused, while in Newcastle, officials estimate that “more than half” of the 4,000 blue badges in issue are being used illegally.

In Edinburgh, officials think the problem is even worse, with 70 per cent of badges being misused.

The scams include using a disabled relative’s badge without their knowledge, keeping a disabled relative’s badge after they have died, and photocopying or using stolen or forged badges.

Nationwide, around 2.5 million blue badges are in issue, suggesting that the number being used fraudulently may be in excess of a million.

Ministers are planning to launch a major crackdown on the fraud, with measures likely to include:

New powers to allow parking attendants to be given powers to seize badges which are being misused. Under current regulations, attendants need a police officer to be present.

• Forcing councils, which issue the badges, to make applicants undergo medical tests to prove that they are entitled to the permits. At present many councils make no medical checks and some send out badges on the basis of a simple letter, leaving the system wide open to abuse.

• New badges which are harder to forge.

Norman Baker, the transport minister, said: “We have done the consultation and it is clear that there is real concern about the abuse of blue badges.

“We intend to take steps to tackle that.”


Hundreds of fake Blue Badges are seized every year. Many abusers are prosecuted for fraud.

Caption: Hundreds of fake Blue Badges are seized every year. Councils are employing specialist teams to crack down on Blue Badge fraud and take perpetrators to court.


The blue badges give disabled motorists the right to park free of charge in marked bays and on single and double yellow lines, while also providing an exemption from London’s congestion charge.

They are issued to people who are registered blind, receive a war pensioner’s mobility supplement, or receive the higher rate mobility component of the disability living allowance.

The number of badges in use has soared in recent years. In England, 48 badges are issued per 1,000 people, compared to 37 per 1,000 people 10 years ago.

The Department for Transport says that one in 200 badges in circulation is reported stolen each year and the Local Government Association estimates that one in every three blue badges is misused or stolen.

The abuse can leave disabled motorists and their carers struggling to find places to park, while also depriving councils of parking revenue.

Critics said that many local authorities gave out badges too easily and failed to crack down on misuse.

The North West has more badges per head of population – 59 per 1,000 people – than any other region in England.

London issues the lowest proportion of badges, 30 per 1,000, partly because the capital has the lowest rate of car ownership and a younger population than other areas.

The disparities are even bigger among individual boroughs: Islington in north London has 40 badges per thousand residents while neighbouring Camden has only 11 per thousand. Bexley, in south-east London, has 51 per thousand, while next-door Bromley has only 21.

Helen Dolphin, policy and campaigns director for the charity Mobilise, said: “The situation has spiralled out of control and we need urgent action to tackle the abuse.

“It is a crime and it needs to be taken seriously. It’s disgraceful that people with genuine mobility problems cannot get a parking space because people are abusing the system.”

Paul Slowey, who runs Blue Badge Fraud Investigation, providing investigators for councils to work with police in the South of England, said: “There are clearly problems with the issuing of badges and with enforcement action against misuse.

“Some councils are making real efforts but others are doing very little to tackle this serious problem.”

View full article on The Telegraph.