A smartphone app enabling on-the-spot checks is being piloted by Croydon Council enforcement officers as the authority steps up its fight against the misuse of disabled drivers’ blue badge parking permits.
In addition to catching those who deprive disabled motorists of the opportunity of parking close to shops and other facilities, the pilot scheme will produce a cut in the cost of prosecutions, and see an increase in parking revenue as fraudsters realise that the risk is not worth taking.
The initiative, led by the council’s corporate anti-fraud team (Caft), means that officers can immediately validate displayed blue badges and detect abuse by viewing real-time records in the national database of registered badge holders.
Officers can search the blue badge holder’s details on their mobile device, check that the photograph matches the person in the vehicle, and then take appropriate action, such as seizing the car if the holder is not in the vehicle.
Such on-the-spot checks increase the likelihood of successful prosecution.
Savings will follow as, in addition to aiding identity misuse, the initiative will reduce spend on processing prosecution cases.
Previously, in instances of badge misuse, external lawyers were employed to process cases before they reached court. Under the new system, Caft officers will undertake some of that preparatory work, reducing the cost from £470 to £220.
“We take the issue of blue-badge fraud very seriously and the introduction of these measures provides a win-win situation for the council, for council taxpayers and for disabled motorists.
“Blue badges are a vital part of helping disabled people to get around. The vast majority of holders use their permit correctly, and it’s only a small minority who abuse it.
“In addition to significant cost savings, which benefit all who live in Croydon, the crackdown on these antisocial motorists will make life easier for genuine blue-badge holders.
“On top of that, enforcement should also see a small improvement to parking revenue as we change the behaviour of those who may have risked misusing the permits.”
Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the council
For more information about what a blue badge is, visit the council website here.
To report someone who is misusing a blue badge, email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 020 8760 5645, Monday to Friday between 8.30am and 5.30pm.