London,
30
September
2008
|
00:00
Europe/London

New team to tackle disabled parking fraudsters

A new dedicated team will be set up to investigate and directly tackle disabled parking permit (Blue Badge) fraud and misuse in Hackney, from early 2009.

The introduction of the new team is part of a number of initiatives to be implemented by Hackney Council, to improve parking services for disabled residents and further combat Blue Badge fraud.

Blue Badge theft and fraud is a major problem throughout London and other cities. The badges entitle eligible users, who are often severely disabled and are unable or find it difficult to use public transport, to on-street parking concessions. These include improved access to parking near public services and on most high streets. They are extremely lucrative on the black market and sell for up to £1500 each.

The dedicated anti-fraud and enforcement team will prosecute people misusing badges, which is a criminal offence. Anyone found guilty of misuse will also be liable for a fine of up to £1,000 per offence and other costs.

Cllr Alan Laing, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods said: “A couple of years ago 60 per cent of car break-ins in Hackney were to steal Blue Badges. That figure decreased dramatically when we created the Companion Badge pilot scheme.

“However we know from a recent consultation that the situation could be better for our disabled residents and Blue Badge fraud and misuse remains unacceptably high. This is why a series of new measures, including the Blue Badge Fraud Team, have been agreed by Cabinet.”

The free Companion Badge scheme was brought in 2005, allows holders who own a car to park in all areas permitted by the Blue Badge throughout the Borough and holders living in a controlled parking area to park in local residential bays free of charge. Now over 28% of the 6,000 Blue Badge holders in Hackney now have a Companion Badge. Each Companion Badge is specific to one vehicle, which removes the incentive to break in to the car and steal the badge. The Council is urging more disabled drivers to protect their vehicle from being broken into by using the Companion Badge.

Part of the new measures will make the Companion Badge more flexible and reduce the need to always display the Blue Badge clock at the same time. Changes to the application process for Companion Badges and Blue Badges will also become more complementary and user-friendly.

For further information on Companion Badges please contact Parking Services on 020 8356 8877, or visit the Parking Shop at 275 Mare Street. Applications can be downloaded from www.hackney.gov.uk/ek-permits-474.htm.

Adult Social Care is responsible for issuing Blue Badges in Hackney. The Department for Transport’s Blue Badge Helpline can also be contacted on 0207 944 2914.



Ends