Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry, said: “This operation with our partners sends out a strong message that Hampshire County Council is committed to stamping out this type of offence. Blue Badge fraud and misuse is not a victimless crime - the actions of unentitled drivers who break the law and risk a criminal record put disabled residents at a real disadvantage – taking away spaces from those who genuinely rely on the Blue Badge scheme to provide essential support and improve their quality of life.
“My twin brother spent the last year of his life confined to a wheelchair and I know just how important a convenient car parking space is for people with disabilities. I remember my brother being very taken with a notice in the back of a car in France, where we were on holiday which said words to the effect: “I don’t mind you taking my car park space if you also take my disability”. People who abuse the system need to think on that.”
During the operation in Winchester this month (February 2019), teams found 10 badges were being wrongly used. Three cases were deemed to be serious enough for further investigation and the other seven were dealt with via formal warnings.
Hampshire County Council, as the Blue Badge issuing authority, is responsible for Blue Badge enforcement in Hampshire. Together with the district and unitary councils who are responsible for their local parking enforcement, the local authorities work together to identify potential or proven misuse and respond to allegations of misuse. Where cases require further investigation, Hampshire County Council works with Portsmouth City Council, 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.
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
• To commit any form of fraud relating to the use of a Blue Badge or acquiring a Blue Badge.
People who misuse Blue Badges to access disabled parking areas can face fines of up to £5,000 and a criminal record.
In the last three years the enforcement partnership has retained over 1,300 badges for misuse across the county.
For more information about using Blue Badges correctly or to report the misuse of a Blue Badge, visit Hampshire County Council’s website: https://www.hants.gov.uk/transport/parking/bluebadge/rights