Hampshire County Council has confiscated almost ten percent of the Blue Badges checked during targeted enforcement action at the end of February, to tackle Blue Badge misuse and fraud in disabled parking areas.
In crackdown operations held in Andover, Basingstoke, Aldershot/Farnborough, and Havant/Fareham, over 500 badges were inspected. In the majority of cases, people were using their badge correctly. However, 49 were confiscated by the County Council. The infringements included; people using someone else’s badge, and the use of expired badges. In the Andover, Basingstoke and Aldershot/Farnborough areas, there were three cases where people were using a deceased person’s badge.
In addition to receiving penalty charge notices, holders also had badges confiscated and received formal warnings.
Hampshire County Council, as the Blue Badge issuing authority, is responsible for Blue Badge enforcement in Hampshire. Together with the district councils who are responsible for their local parking enforcement, the councils identify potential or proven misuse and respond to allegations of misuse.
It is a criminal offence for a person to use a badge that does not belong to them; to alter a badge; to create a copy of a badge; to use an expired badge; and to commit any form of fraud relating to the use of a Blue Badge, or acquiring a Blue Badge.
Where cases require further investigation, Hampshire County Council works with Portsmouth City Council, (recent winners of the British Parking award for ‘Parking Team of the year’) to carry out investigations on the County Council’s behalf. These investigations can lead to prosecution should they be serious enough to make such action necessary.
In total, around 66,000 people have Blue Badges in Hampshire and each year, the County Council issues around 22,000 to ensure that people with the most severe mobility problems continue to be supported so that they can get around more easily. The Blue Badge Scheme is a national arrangement of parking concessions for people with severe mobility difficulties, who travel as either passengers or drivers, and allows badge holders to park close to their destination.
Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry, said: “As the issuing authority for Blue Badges in Hampshire, it is important that we take action against people misusing Blue Badges. By carrying out enforcement operations such as these, our main objective is to make people aware that Blue Badge misuse is not a victimless crime. Drivers, who are misusing or abusing the system, are taking spaces away from those who genuinely need them. Residents with disabilities rely on Blue Badges to provide essential access to the places they need to go, and we will continue to pursue those who deliberately put disabled people at a disadvantage by flouting the law.
“My twin brother spent the last 12 months of his life confined to a wheelchair. For the most part he accepted that with equanimity and a good deal of humour. However, the one thing that really got him angry was unentitled people using a disabled bay – often excusing themselves they were only going to be a couple of minutes. I have never forgotten just how important those bays are to people with disabilities.”