Crackdown on Blue Badge misuse in Norfolk - one year on
30 November 2017
A year after Norfolk County Council announced a crackdown on blue badge misuse in the county, four people have been successfully prosecuted and 82 investigations into suspected blue badge misuse have been carried out.
Blue badges are a lifeline for the 35,000 Norfolk people who have one, so since November 2016 the County Council’s Blue Badge Investigator has been working to follow-up on reports of blue badge misuse, support Civil Parking Enforcement officers to carry out increased checks and provide reassurance and advice to help people stay on the right side of the law.
The aim has been to remind people to check they are using their blue badge correctly to make sure vital parking spaces remain available for those who need them most.
The successful prosecutions all involved people using a blue badge that was not their own to park either on yellow lines or in disabled bays without the badge holder being present for part of the journey.
In the National Fraud Authority's Annual Fraud Indicator 2013 report it was reported that Blue Badge Fraud Investigation (BBFI Ltd) has estimated that 20% of blue badges are misused in some way.
Graham Footer, Chief Executive of Disabled Motoring UK said: “As a charity representing disabled motorists, we welcome the news that action is being taken to combat Blue Badge abuse and misuse in Norfolk and we commend Norfolk County Council for the stance they have taken. It is not acceptable for people to misuse or fraudulently abuse the Blue Badge scheme which for genuine Blue Badge holders is a life line and vital to them in maintaining their independence.”
Martin Wilby, Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Environment, Development and Transport committee, said: “The prosecutions send a clear message that Blue Badge misuse is wrong and we stand with blue badge holders whose lifeline can be taken away by people breaking the law.
“It’s thankfully just a small number of people who choose to misuse a blue badge but sadly this is not a victimless crime. So we will continue to ask people to proudly show us your badge if asked by a Civil Parking Enforcement officer as this helps us to make sure people stay within the law.”
Jim Blake, Norfolk County Council’s Blue Badge Investigator, said: “We’ve found that the vast majority of people are using their blue badge correctly and my aim is to support all these people who are doing the right thing.
“I’ve seen a few common errors over the past year which the team have reminded people not to do again such as someone using an expired badge when they would qualify for a new badge, and failing to return an expired badge.
“But sadly the people prosecuted have made a decision to take advantage of a blue badge that isn’t theirs and which they don’t need. I hope these successful prosecutions will help to remind others not to break the law in the same way.
“Remember if you believe you’ve seen someone using a blue badge fraudulently please do let us know.”
The civil enforcement officers who work to enforce on-street parking restrictions are overseen by the Norfolk Parking Partnership which brings together borough and district councils from across the county. Parking enforcement in Norwich is operated separately by the city council, however suspected fraud wherever it takes place in Norfolk, is looked into by Norfolk’s Blue Badge Investigator.
Cllr Tony White, Chairman of the Norfolk Parking Partnership Joint Committee, said: “It was really gratifying to hear at our most recent meeting about the positive feedback we’ve been receiving from blue badge holders who are pleased with our work to crack down on blue badge misuse.”
Since November 2016, 82 investigations into suspected blue badge misuse have been carried out. Each instance is looked at on a case-by-case basis with many people being given written or verbal advice to correct misunderstandings about how the blue badge should be used, and to prevent future misuse.
Key advice for blue badge holders:
- Check your expiry date
- Apply to renew your badge in good time as renewal can take six to eight weeks
- Return your expired badge
- Clearly display the original badge (not a copy)
- You don’t need multiple blue badges – your badge can be used in any vehicle you are travelling in
- Ensure all the information on the badge is visible, some wallets can obscure information and invalidate the badge
- Read the Your Rights and Responsibilities booklet and the information printed on the reverse of your badge
Blue badges allow people to park on the street where they wouldn’t otherwise be able to, and it is only on street parking that has been the focus of this work. There may be different rules that apply to off street parking in car parks that are privately run or owned so people are urged to check any signage before they park.
The enforcement by Norfolk County Council uses existing legislation, some of which has been around since 1970, the latest being The Disabled Persons’ Parking Badges Act 2013.
For information on how to use a blue badge correctly and to report blue badge misuse, visit: www.norfolk.gov.uk/bluebadge
Cllr Martin Wilby (Conservative) Chairman of the Environment, Development and Transport Committee, on 07920 286618 or 01379 741504
Cllr Terry Jermy (Labour) on 01842 630851
Cllr Tim East (Liberal Democrat), on 01603 743241
Cllr Tony White, Chairman of the Norfolk Parking Partnership Joint Committee, on 01366 502133