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Disabled people ‘robbed of independence’ as blue badge thefts treble since 2013

Theft of badges designed to allow disabled drivers free parking has more than trebled in two years, new research from the LGA shows.

There were just 656 reports of blue badges being stolen in 2013, but this rose to 1,756 in 2014 and then 2,056 in 2015.

Between 2010 and 2015, the number of successful council prosecutions for fraudulent use of blue badges increased from 330 to 985.

Cllr Martin Tett, transport spokesperson for the LGA, said: “Illegally using a Blue Badge is not a victimless crime. For disabled people, Blue Badges are a vital lifeline that helps them get out and about to visit shops or family and friends.

“Callous thieves and unscrupulous fraudsters using them illegally are robbing disabled people of this independence. Despite limited resources, councils continue to work hard to crackdown on this growing crime.”

Recent fines for fraudulently using family members’ blue badges included £6,402 for six people in Bath and £1,100 for a woman in Portsmouth.

Calderdale and Bath and North East Somerset councils have also recently held blue badge amnesties, allowing members of the public to return fraudulent badges on a ‘no questions asked’ basis.

Cllr Tett urged members of the public to help councils by reporting suspected cases of blue badge fraud. However, he added that it “might not always be obvious” that a person is disabled and has a legitimate need for a badge.

Graham Footer, chief executive of Disabled Motoring, which supports blue badge holders, said the charity was ‘dismayed’ at the figures.

“I hope that local authorities will be taking this seriously and doing something to tackle it,” he said.

(Image c. Anthony Devlin)

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