1. The Blue Badge parking scheme provides a national arrangement of parking concessions for those people who have an enduring disability or health condition that means they have substantial difficulty walking. The Department for Transport provides guidance to local authorities on administering and enforcing the scheme. North Lincolnshire Council Blue Badge Support Team and Community Warden and Parking Service are responsible for the administration and enforcement of the scheme.
2. The misuse of the Blue Badge scheme undermines the benefits of the scheme, impacts upon local traffic management and can creates hostility amongst other badge holders and members of the public. It can result in a genuinely disabled person being unable to access designated parking spaces.
Types of misuse
3. The vast majority of Blue Badge holders use their badges responsibly. However, there are individuals who misuse the scheme. This misuse can take a number of forms.
Misuse by the badge holder:
- Parking in the wrong place or parking for too long where there is a time limit
- Use of a badge that is no longer valid
- Use of a badge reported as lost or stolen
- Letting a friend or relative use the badge
- Use of a copied badge
- Altering the details on the badge, e.g. the expiry date
- Making a fraudulent application (e.g. providing false information on the application) or using a badge obtained fraudulently
Misuse by a third party:
- Using someone else’s badge (with or without the badge holder’s knowledge) without the badge holder being present in the vehicle at the time of parking
- Using a badge belonging to someone who has died
- Copying, altering or faking badges
- Using a stolen badge
- Using a fake badge
This list is not exhaustive.
4. It is a criminal offence to misuse a Blue Badge. In the event of someone being found to be in contravention of the Blue Badge scheme, this policy seeks to ensure that:
- The message is clear that misuse of the scheme will not be tolerated
- We provide support to blue badge holders to help them to understand their responsibilities as badge holders and reduce misuse
- We enforce the blue badge scheme in a fair and consistent manner
- We take appropriate and proportionate action to stop any misuse
- We undertake criminal proceedings in line with our prosecution policy when necessary
5. We operate a robust application process to minimise the number of false applications being successful.
6. Every successful applicant for a Blue Badge will be issued with the Department for Transport’s ‘The Blue Badge scheme: rights and responsibilities in England’ leaflet. This provides the badge holder with the information they need to ensure the badge is used appropriately.
7. Each applicant when applying will also be required to sign a declaration confirming that they will not allow the misuse of a badge that has been issued to them.
8. We will inspect vehicles parked on the public highway and in Council car parks using a Blue Badge, as part of the duties of our Community Wardens (CW’s). Where there is evidence of misuse and the misuse constitutes a contravention of the Traffic Management Act 2004, the CW’s will take the appropriate action as per the North Lincolnshire Councils Civil Parking Enforcement Policy. The CW’s may also consider seizing the badge and returning it to the issuing authority if they establish reasonable grounds to do so and is practical. The CW’s may also refer the misuse to North Lincolnshire Council’s fraud team to investigate further.
9. If the misuse is by someone other than the badge holder, we will contact the badge holder to remind them of their responsibility to ensure the badge is not misused and that allowing another person to misuse the badge is a criminal offence. If the misuse continues, we will notify the badge holder that further misuse may lead to a refusal to renew the blue badge and that we may consider criminal proceedings if the misuse continues.
10. We may receive information on potential blue badge misuse from the public, our employees and other third parties. We will consider all allegations made and determine the appropriate action to be taken. Actions may range from reminding the badge holder of their responsibilities to criminal investigation dependant on the individual circumstances of the allegation.
11. Where intelligence suggests particular areas of Blue Badge misuse, we will consider undertaking operations to target these areas.
12. If the misuse could also constitute other criminal offences (other than road traffic offences), we will take the appropriate action to stop the misuse and investigate the offence. The issue of a Penalty Charge Notice for contraventions of road traffic regulations does not prevent us from also pursuing criminal offences. Such investigations are not limited to the badge holder, but also include third parties misusing the badge.
13. Criminal investigations will be conducted by professionally trained officers from the Counter Fraud Team in accordance with the Criminal Procedures and Investigations Act 1996, Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and any other legislation that may be appropriate to a particular investigation.
14. We will use the personal data we hold for the prevention and/or detection of crime where it is appropriate and lawful to do so.
15. Where evidence of wrongdoing is identified we may take one or more of the following courses of action in accordance with the relevant legislation:
- Remind the badge holder of their responsibilities
- Inform the person misusing the Blue Badge that they are committing offences and may be prosecuted for future offences
- Retain the Blue Badge
- Refuse to renew a Blue Badge
- Cancel a Blue Badge
- Refuse an application for a Blue Badge
- Offer an individual a formal caution as an alternative to prosecution
16. Where we have grounds to believe that the badge holder will permit another person to continue to misuse a badge, we will consider refusing to renew the badge once it has expired.
17. Where a Blue Badge holder has been convicted of an offence in relation to the misuse of that badge, we will consider withdrawing the badge.