Blue badges are a vital lifeline for many of our most vulnerable residents. The scheme is there to help those with disabilities get better access to the city, and misuse can mean those in need can’t get where they need to be.
Blue Badge misuse is a serious problem, with 597 people charged in 2019. “Not only does misuse affect disabled people trying to access what Nottingham has to offer, but it also impacts our wider community” says Compliance and Fraud Officer Marcus Hall, as he tells us more about the implications of blue badge misuse:
How do people often misuse blue badges?
“Blue badge misuse can be split into two categories; abuse and misuse. Abuse can be using an expired, canceled or stolen badge. Blue badges are very valuable and often cars seen with this inside are targeted by thieves. It can also be a case of using someones that has died, which 50 people were charged with last year.
Badge misuse is when a person is caught using someone else’s badge while they are not present, such as a family member using blue badge privileges to pick up shopping while the permit owner stays at home.”
How is misuse identified?
“We have 36 officers that have mobile access to the badge database, and will check eligibility on site when they come across a vehicle using blue badge privilege. The database provides information on the named owner with contact details, so if necessary our officers can contact them to confirm they are out using their badge. Last year our Community Enforcement Officers reported 1,400 counts of misuse.”
What are the consequences of badge misuse?
“Blue badges are issued in order to help make travel easier for citizens with disabilities. There are a limited amount of disabled parking bays in the city and misuse means that those with a legitimate permit may be forced to walk further than necessary or simply be unable to park at all.
Depending on the severity of misuse there are different charges to be faced. Bottom end you could receive a penalty charge of £50-£70, top end could lead to having your car towed, or prosecution. Once misuse has been recorded we will go ahead with an investigation and charge accordingly.
Not only are disabled people affected by misuse, but there is also a significant cost to the public purse. If the motorist avoids paying Nottingham’s Zone 1 parking charge for 40 hours a week, that’s £4,160 a year of charge dodged. Taking 100 fraudulent badges off the street could save the city £400,000 a year.”
What can we do to tackle misuse?
“For us, as part of the new Community Protection frontline officer training, a Blue Badge session now forms part of it. The more trained officers we have, the more chance we have of catching and prosecuting misusers.
Don’t give your badge out or leave it in the car, check the expiry date, and most importantly, know the rules. Many counts of misuse are simply down to the user not knowing the rules, but as a blue badge owner it is your responsibility to know them and ensure the driver knows them as well.”
If you don’t know the answer, just ask!