31 January 2018
First prosecution from crackdown on blue badge misuse
The first person found to be fraudulently using parking services reserved for disabled people during a council campaign, was prosecuted yesterday (30 January 2018).
Council civil enforcement officers and Veritau, the company that investigates fraud on behalf of the council, offered a two-week amnesty in July for the return of expired badges which allow use of these services without question, or fear of legal action being taken.
Once the amnesty passed, proactive ‘enforcement patrols’ were carried across York in August and November. Enforcement officers and investigators checked badges on display to confirm that they were still valid, that the badge holder was present and using the badge. Where misuse was found, penalty charges were issued as well as criminal investigations instigated.
The first person found to be misusing a blue badge by these patrols has been prosecuted at York Magistrates Court.
A car was found in Piccadilly car park on 3 August 2017 displaying the driver’s late husband’s blue badge. The driver had parked fraudulently in a disabled bay and had therefore evaded paying parking charges.
Veritau investigators found that the badge holder had died and a penalty charge notice was issued to the driver who claimed she had correctly displayed her blue badge.
When interviewed under caution the driver admitted that it was her late husband’s badge that she had displayed. She claimed that she had been blocked in when parking elsewhere earlier in the day and that she kept the invalid badge in her car.
Pleading guilty to all charges at the Magistrates Court, she was sentenced to a £100 fine and ordered to pay a court surcharge of £30 and court costs of £349.40.
Councillor David Carr, leader of City of York, said, “The council is committed to tackling all forms of fraud. The blue badge scheme is for people with mobility problems. Misuse impacts on the limited capacity of parking available for legitimate disabled users who have little or no choice about how they get about."
A blue badge should be handed back to the council if:
- It has expired
- The badge holder is no longer eligible to use one
- It is a replacement for a badge lost or stolen and the original has since been found
- The badge is so damaged or faded that the details are not clear
- The badge holder has died.
Blue badge fraud is a problem across the UK and is thought to cost the country £46 million a year. Someone found misusing a blue badge faces prosecution and a £1,000 fine.