Motorists misusing Blue Badges in Oxfordshire are being targeted in a crackdown.
There are currently just over 22,500 Blue Badge holders across Oxfordshire. During December and January, Oxfordshire County Council, which administers the Blue Badge scheme is working with Oxford City Council’s award winning Investigations Team to carry out anti-fraud and investigative work across the county and raise awareness of how Blue Badges should be used.
The initiative aims to free up spaces for disabled drivers.Many disabled people rely on their Blue Badge to help them live independently, take part in the local community and contribute to their local economy. Every time a Blue Badge is used by someone who it does not belong to, that parking space is taken away from a disabled person who genuinely needs it.
Those caught misusing Blue Badges risk having it taken off them or being fined. Strict rules govern the use of a Blue Badge and people shouldn't use one if:
- it doesn't belong to them − it must not be borrowed or used after the genuine badge holder has died
- the badge holder is not in the car, including when the car is being parked
- the holder no longer qualifies for the badge or it is out of date.
Cllr Nick Carter, Oxfordshire County Council's cabinet member for Business and Customer Services said: “Illegally using a Blue Badge is not a victimless crime. For disabled people, Blue Badges are a vital lifeline that helps them maintain their independence and get out and about. It's really important to us and to genuine Blue Badge holders that people don't misuse the scheme and take up spaces needed by someone with genuine mobility problems. It's extremely inconsiderate and in some cases can make the difference between someone being able to get out and be independent and just turning round and going home.”
Cllr Ed Turner, Oxford City Council’s Deputy Leader and Board Member for Finance, Asset Management and Public Health said: “Abusing a Blue Badge is a crime – pure and simple. Some people may be tempted to use someone else’s genuine badge to run errands for them. They incorrectly think that what they are doing is not fraud - but it’s still a criminal offence and like all other badge abuses can lead to prosecution, a £1000 fine and a criminal conviction.
“Fraudulent use of Blue Badges stops genuine users being able to access parking when and where they need it most as well as being a significant loss in revenue to public parking providers. So the message is, if you’re thinking of misusing a Blue Badge, please think again – you may deprive a genuine Blue Badge holder of a space needed, and risk a criminal conviction.”
Blue Badge misuse is a criminal offence which can lead to a £1,000 fine, confiscation of the badge and a criminal record.
Anyone who suspects that a blue badge is being misused can report their concerns on the Oxfordshire County Council website.