News & Features

Tackling Blue Badge Abuse - A Different Approach

Posted in General News on Tuesday, July 12th, 2022

For many years Disabled Motoring UK has always advocated the best way to enforce the Blue Badge scheme is by prosecuting all offenders. We have long believed that the best way to preserve its integrity is through proper management of the scheme and sanctions for those who abuse it.

It has recently come to DMUK’s attention that one local authority, East Sussex County Council, is having success with protecting the scheme through a slightly different system. Still using prosecutions, when necessary, for people who are persistent offenders, alter badges or are using a deceased person’s badge. However, they also use a Local Resolution Order (LRO) initiative for first time offenders who are committing minor offences. The best way to describe this is like a ‘speed awareness course’ for Blue Badge misuse – maybe a Blue Badge Awareness course! For those who are caught misusing the badge, for example they are using a relative’s badge without the badge holder being present, the offender can opt to take the LRO instead of being prosecuted. If they chose to do this the person has to pay £100 administration fee and attend the awareness course. Currently this is being carried out online, but it used to take place in groups at East Sussex County Council before the Covid-19 pandemic. The course features an impactful video which highlights how important Blue Badge parking is to disabled people and features several case studies of real disabled people living in East Sussex. The video then goes on to highlight how people abusing the scheme affects the availability of suitable parking for Blue Badge holders and what consequences this has on their lives. East Sussex County Council estimate that they lose roughly £150k in parking revenue because people abusing the scheme should be paying to park. This is therefore less money the council has to put back into social care to support disabled people in other ways. It ends with the police stating that it is a criminal offence to abuse the scheme and if prosecuted you could get a criminal record which could affect your entire life. After this video, Mark Jobling, East Sussex’s Blue Badge Investigations Officer, leads a discussion with the offenders. A warning letter is also sent to the Blue Badge holder stating it is their responsibility to look after the badge and not let others use it. They are told if this happens again the badge may be withdrawn and cancelled.

The council finds this system very effective when it comes to educating offenders about the Blue Badge scheme and its proper use. They carry out roughly 100-150 LROs every year. The LRO scheme is a good way of being proportionate to the offence incurred and increases education of the scheme. They rarely see re-offending once a person has gone through this process.

East Sussex Blue Badge Investigations Officer, Mark Jobling, comments: “After the success we have had since introducing this scheme, we have been asked about it by various other counties including Kent and hopefully they too will successfully adopt this process. We are very happy to share it with those who might be interested. Just seeing disabled people on screen telling their stories about how they are affected by this misuse is very powerful and send a message to those who have offended. Who will hopefully think twice about reoffending?” 

Heidi Turner, DMUK Campaigns and Communications Director, said: “After chatting to Mark Jobling we can see that this LRO scheme is providing effective results in East Sussex. It seems like an excellent way of policing the scheme and protecting its integrity for genuine users. It also removes a lot of the ‘red tape’ and time that prosecuting offenders involves and maybe a more practical tool for local authorities to enforce the Blue Badge scheme. We would like to see more local authorities adopt this type of Blue Badge enforcement.”

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Ivan Millington's Gravatar
Ivan Millington

Tuesday, December, 12th, 2023

As a blue badge holder I find that the worst abuses occur at Supermarkets and other stores where they have taken the trouble to install blue badge areas. Some supermarkets have those areas police by parking companies, the majority do not, which results in abuse of the scheme. It is of no use mentioning abuse to staff at the store, I have found that to be pointless.