Councils failing to prosecute blue badge fraudsters, DfT warns

According to the Department for Transport (DfT), drivers who misuse blue badges for the disabled are left unpunished by 40 per cent of councils in England.

Blue badges entitle drivers to free parking in pay and display bays and allow them to park in disabled zones.

Analysis by the Press Association showed that 61 out of 152 local authorities do not have a penalty policy for the dishonest use of badges, while the RAC has cited fines of up to £1,000 for the crime.

Steve Gooding, the foundation's direction of motoring research, said: "But that is no deterrent if councils have no policies for prosecutions.”

He added: "Abuse of the system creates huge levels of ill feeling and risks bringing into disrepute the whole scheme, which is invaluable for those who really need it."

James Taylor, Scope's head of policy, said councils have a duty to disabled people and to taxpayers to tackle the issue.

He said: "Many disabled people rely heavily on their blue badges to live independently and we need to crack down on misuse of the system wherever possible.

"It appears that some councils take their work to weed out those who are not disabled more seriously than others."

The Local Government Association (LGA) has said there were 2,056 cases of theft recorded in 2015 compared with 1,756 in 2014 and 656 in 2013.

Responding to the figures, a spokesman for the LGA countered: "Councils take blue badge fraud seriously and are working hard to combat it.

"Gathering evidence and mounting a prosecution can be time-consuming and expensive, but councils know their areas and are best placed to decide the most effective way to tackle it."