DMUK tackles supermarkets over disabled parking abuse

Supported by Baroness Grey-Thompson

A common problem for many disabled motorists is not being able to park at their desired destination, especially at their local supermarket. The major complaint is that the disabled bays are all occupied with cars not displaying a Blue Badge.

Disabled Motoring UK’s Baywatch campaign seeks to address this. This campaign researches the level of disabled parking abuse at supermarkets, by asking disabled motorists to survey their local supermarket car park. Specifically, they count how many disabled bays are provided and how many cars that are parked in them without displaying a Blue Badge. The other information we ask for is details of the type of enforcement (if any) carried out by the parking operator responsible for the car park. Details of the operator and enforcement should be displayed on the signage near the disabled bays.

When the survey closes the results are calculated, published and sent to the supermarkets to encourage them to work with the charity to improve their parking policies with regard to tackling disabled bay abuse by using effective enforcement. The Baywatch campaign also aims to change public attitudes by bringing to the attention of disabled bay abusers the impact that their actions can have.

In 2019 we had record numbers of people filling in the Baywatch survey which shows how passionate disabled people are about this issue. Usually DMUK only runs this specific campaigning activity every two years, but because of the interest last year we want to continue to gather momentum on this issue, so DMUK has made Baywatch an annual campaign!

This campaign was first launched in 2002 and over the years we’ve seen small improvements in the levels of disabled parking abuse at supermarkets. The eligibility criteria for the Blue Badge has changed and we are seeing increased numbers of Blue Badge holders and therefore an increase in demand for Blue Badge parking. It is now more important than ever that disabled bays are enforced to make sure that only genuine Blue Badge holders are parking in disabled bays.

Results 2019

The campaign last took place in June 2019 and the supermarket with the least abuse was Morrisons with an average of 10% disabled parking abuse. General findings showed that one in five disabled bays at supermarkets are abused. If supermarkets enforced their disabled bays properly 20% more parking could be made available without having to add additional disabled bays. They also showed us, yet again, that enforcement works; when the data was dissected and car parks that use enforcement where compared with those that had no obvious signs of enforcement, the average levels of disabled parking abuse were much lower in car parks which stated on signage that they enforce their disabled bays.

Baywatch 2020

We usually run the Baywatch Campaign in June. However, last year the campaign seemed very popular when talking to people at the summer disability events. Therefore we have decided to run Baywatch 2020 in the month of August in the hope that even more people will take part. Full details of how to take part will be published on our website in August.

We hope to make this year bigger and better than ever before and have a number of organisations supporting Baywatch 2020.

The campaign has support from Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, she commented: “It’s so sad that Disabled Motoring UK has to run its Baywatch Campaign. Disabled bay enforcement should be mandatory, especially for the big supermarkets that can afford to invest in policing their car parks. I see disabled parking abuse every day, it’s never a surprise to me, including at my local supermarket. There is a real lack of understanding about how essential these bays are to disabled people and I applaud DMUK’s Baywatch Campaign as it plays a vital role in highlighting the issue of disabled parking abuse at supermarkets. It is a campaign that I fully support and I intend to survey my local supermarket car park in August to help DMUK obtain the data they need to take the supermarkets to task over their disabled bay parking policies.”

Heidi Turner, Communications and Campaigns Director at DMUK, said: “Baywatch is one of the charity’s longest running campaigns and is really important to draw attention to the parking problems that disabled people face when just trying to do their everyday grocery shopping. It is now an annual campaign for the charity and we hope this will allow us to gather momentum and keep the pressure on the supermarkets to do more to support their disabled customers. It’s fantastic that the campaign has support from Baroness Grey-Thompson again this year. This campaign relies on public participation and we hope her support will encourage others to get involved.” 

Baywatch Appeal

In October 2019 DMUK launched its Baywatch Appeal as a way of raising additional funds to support the charity’s campaigning efforts. Since its launch the charity has raised an extra £4972.30 in added donations. To donate please visit our donate page.

DMUK Baywatch Sponsor

DMUK has worked for many years with the British Parking Association (BPA) to improve parking for disabled motorists. The BPA sponsored the campaign in 2019 and is once again sponsoring it for 2020.

Kelvin Reynolds, BPA Director of Corporate and Public Affairs says, “We are delighted to sponsor the 2020 Baywatch campaign. Effective parking management plays a vital role in everyone’s lives, especially people who are disabled and those needing to park their vehicles close to their destination. Parking bays reserved for Blue Badge holders must be managed properly to ensure they are not obstructed and used only by people displaying a valid disabled Blue Badge. We support this campaign to raise awareness of the absolute need for proper and effective parking management of Blue Badge parking bays everywhere and at supermarkets especially.”

Supporting organisations

DMUK Baywatch is also supported by:






We’d like to get as many organisations involved as possible to spread awareness of the campaign. There is still time to get involved and we welcome all support with this vital campaign.