Blue badge thefts in England quadruple in four years


A blue badge for disabled driverImage copyright
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More than 2,900 blue badges were reported stolen in one year

Thefts of parking permits for disabled motorists have more than quadrupled in four years, according to new figures.

Official statistics show there were 2,921 blue badges reported stolen in England during 2016-17, a rise of 14% on the year before.

It compares with 656 stolen in 2012-13.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said fraudsters were “robbing” disabled people of their independence but added councils had successfully prosecuted more than 1,100 people in 2016-17.

Department for Transport data showed that councils in London had the highest rate of thefts of blue badges.

In Islington 196 badges were stolen in 2016-17, equivalent to 26 in every 1,000.

Blue badges allow disabled people to park for free in pay and display bays and for up to three hours on yellow lines.

In London, badge holders are exempt from the congestion charge saving them around £2,500 a year.

The LGA said more than two million disabled people use blue badges.

It said fraudsters had been prosecuted by councils for using stolen or lost badges and using relatives’ badges “in order to scam free parking to go shopping or travel to work”.

There were 1,131 successful prosecutions for blue badge fraud in 2016-17, up from 535 in 2013-14.

LGA transport spokesman Councillor Martin Tett said: “Theft of blue badges is clearly a crime on the rise and it is alarming that incidents have risen by more than 40% in just two years.

“Blue badges are a vital lifeline that helps disabled people get out and about to visit shops or family and friends. Callous thieves and unscrupulous fraudsters using them illegally are robbing them of this independence.”



Source : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-43071932

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