Disabled blue badge fraud clampdown in Plymouth
Police and Plymouth City Council are joining forces to clamp down on so called ‘blue badge fraud’ – motorists who misuse disabled parking badges or hold them illegally.
There are 2.56m blue badges issued in Britain and one in 200 is stolen every year.
The council issues around 5,000 blue badges each year. People who receive certain benefits can be automatically entitled to a badge or people can qualify based on an independent medical assessment.
The national black market for disabled badges is around £46 million a year and in some areas, particularly in retail districts, misuse often runs between 40 and 60 per cent.
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In a bid to assess the size of the problem in the city, the city centre policing team will this week get together with the Council’s fraud, blue badge and parking teams to mount Operation Dashboard.
Multi-agency teams will spend Wednesday and Thursday focussing on all the city centre car parks and places with on-street disabled parking looking for those who misuse or illegally hold blue badges.
“Our aim is to get out on the streets and engage with all disabled badge holders, explaining what we are doing and why,” said PCSO Tony Brown, who is running Operation Dashboard.
“We will offer advice to and badge holders who are “misusing” their badge and the parking division will be issuing fixed penalty notices for offences relating to the badge.
“The Council’s fraud team will be looking for anyone holding a blue badge illegally and we will have a traffic officer on hand to ensure that all is in order with vehicle documents.”
Plymouth city councillor Mark Coker, cabinet member for transport said: “We take fraudulent use of blue badges very seriously. Misuse of the badges deprives people with a genuine need of access to parking and limits their independence.
“We have a dedicated fraud team who work closely with the police and will prosecute blue badge misuse and fraud, it could mean at fine of up to £1,000 or a prison sentence.
“We will also be offering an amnesty for anyone whose badge is out of date or who has a badge that doesn’t belong to them up until 15 February.”