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Blue badge fraud prosecutions on the rise – LGA

Blue badge fraud prosecutions have doubled in the last three years following a concerted effort by councils to crack down on dishonest motorists using the free parking passes. 

Analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA) has revealed that unscrupulous fraudsters have even been caught using a dead relative’s pass or having left a disabled parent stuck at home so the fraudster can park for free to go shopping or travel to work. 

Currently, more than two million disabled people use blue badges for free parking in pay and display bays and parking for up to three hours on yellow lines through the nationwide scheme. 

Research has revealed, however, that the number of people caught abusing the scheme has been on the rise, with 686 successful council prosecutions in 2013 – up from 330 in 2010. 

Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Plymouth Council and Hull City Council recently secured their first prosecutions against fraudsters, while Manchester City Council has a 100% conviction rate with more than 500 prosecutions in the past five years. 

Cllr Peter Box, chair of the LGA’s Economy and Transport Board, said: “Blue badge fraud is a crime that robs disabled people of their independence and ability to get out and about in their own cars and park more easily to visit shops or family and friends. 

“With more of these fraudsters being brought to justice than ever before by councils, this is sending a strong message that we will come down hard on drivers illegally using blue badges.” 

Councils are now being encouraged to use new powers to seize and confiscate badges suspected of being used illegally and some have set up specific enforcement teams to tackle blue badge fraud. 

In 2013, the National Fraud Authority’s Annual Fraud Indicator (AFI) estimated that the loss to the UK economy from fraud was valued at £52bn. Within this total, 20% of all blue badges in circulation were abused at an estimated annual cost of £46m to councils. 

Stephen Harrison, National Fraud Authority chief executive, wrote: “This still significant loss to fraudsters is undoubtedly a very important part of targeting fraud prevention and enforcement work where it is most needed, and where it will have the greatest impact. However, there is still a need for better monitoring, and for organisations to measure fraud loss, as they measure losses due to other crimes.” 

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