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Blue Badge Fraud Crackdown Pay's Off In Portsmouth Hampshire Uk.
Secret Crackdown On Ilegal Disabled Badge Users In City.
Driver's using disabled parking badges have been spied on by a Council in a bid to catch out fraudsters using them ilegally.
In a crackdown, five council traffic officers watched motorists using the badges to park on Portsmouth streets, then challenged those who they suspected of breaking the law.
They spoke to 450 people in two days when this crackdown took place in May of this year and plan to prosecute as many as six for offences which included using a badge which belonged to a dead person and altring an expired badges expiry date.
Michael Parking Operations manager said, It's seriours problem and we estimate it costs us up to £100,000 per year.
There are genuine misunstandings,such as people not being clear if the badge belongs to an indivdual, or a car. In those cases we issue a warning and a penalty notice for £35.00. But others commit delibrate fraud like using a pass which belongs to someone who has died and we take their passes away and prsecute those people.'Blue badges have been issued to 10,000 Disabled people in Portsmouth, and allow them to park for free. The Council's  officers patroled Slindon street and Charlotte street in the city centre and Palmerstone Road and Osborne Road Southsea In May on a Thursday and a Friday. As well as the six taken to court they handed out fines to seven drivers, and took away the badges they used, thought they would be returned to thier owners. Mr Robinson said: If the officers suspected the person wasn't disabled, they waited for them to come back and challenge them. We can tell from the from the badge what age and sex the owner is, but it could be in some cases it turns out that it a relation that they are picking up. Despite concerns in the crackdown could have been seen geuine badge users as snooping Lynne Rigby of Portsmouth Disability Forum said: We're very happy this happens.
Anyone who uses a badge properly has nothing to worry about and we work closely with the Coucil to help stop this fraud.
This Crackdown is taking place with all Council's So Don't Use A Badge That Not Your's £1,000.00 Fine Plus Court Action.

Information Update 10th Of June 2012.

Disabled Motoring UK  Campaign News.
It's now six months since the new style Blue Badge was introduced.
At moment there are very few of these new badges in circulation as they are being brought in gradually over the next three years as people's badges expire.However,in three years'time old badges will be thing of the past and every badge will have a unique identifying number which parking attendants can use to get information about the user from wherever the badge was issued.The style badge will also stop people altering the dates,using the badge have been reported stolen and fakes.
However, what the new badge won't do is stop people using badges the don't belong to them.
The only way to stop this happening is for Local Authorities to Police the scheme and ensure the badge is being used by the disabled person.
For many authorities this is not high priority and so there are lots of people getting away with depriving councils of parking revenue and preventing genuine disabled people from parking.Abuse of this kind is estimated to be as high as 40% in some areas.
However,not all authority really getting to grips with parking abuse is Lambeth City Council in London.Lambeth employ a team of Blue Badge fraud investigators to make sure that badges used in Lambeth are only benefiting those they were issued to. To see how the team carry out their investigations and deal with offenders I spent a day on the streets of Brxton with the fraud squad.

On Patrol
The fraud team consists of Ashley Brandon who is the Parking Investigations Manager,and Steve Davidson and Mark Summerfield who are fraud investigators.Both Steve and Mark are retired Police Officers To Carry out the ticketing we where joined by parking attendant Marlon Dixon.Steve and Mark had been out since 6.30 Am that morning to get evidence of various vehicles arriving in Rushcroft Road not far from Lambeth Town Hall.This street is popular with traders who work nearby,but surprisingly most of the cars didn't have traders parking permits in their windscreens,but instead were displaying Blue Badges.This is because in this street Blue Badge holders can park all day free of charge,but a business permit cost£600.00 and without a permit is £3.00 per hour.
The first car brought my attention was a BMW which had a Lambeth Issued Blue Badge in the window.Steve had been watching this vehicle for several days and had been spotted the nearby cafe owner parking here before starting his shift.Checks had been made and the badge being used was issued to a very elderly gentleman.The first thing that happened was Steve phoned the badge holder to see were he was and it transpired they were at home in bed.Marlon then issued a parking ticket for parking without proper payment and a truck was called to tow the vehicle away. A few minutes later the truck arrived and the BMW was loaded on and taken off to the pound.The Police are told which vehicles have been towed away so when they are called about a"stolen" vehicle they can direct the owner to the pound.The Blue Badge is then removed from the vehicle before it is returned.To the vehicle out of the pound costs the owner £265.00.But this isn't the end of it.The vehicle owner is invited by the fraud team to be interviewed about their Blue Badge abuse.If the team feel that a crime has been committed they are either prosecuted under the Fraud Act or Road Traffic Act.If found guilty they can be given a considerable fine and end up with a criminal record.The Blue Badge holder is also contacted and in some cases the badge is withdrawn.
The next car on the fraud team's hit list was a Toyota Yaris.This vehicle had been brought to the team's attention through a tip-off to their Blue Badge fraud email.Three young men had been seen on numerous occasions getting out of  the car before heading off to the butchers where they worked.Like before a ticket was issued and the vehicle towed away.The Badge was issued to an elderly relative of one of the men.
The next cat to be towed was a Honda Accord.Like the other two Vehicles this was owned by a trader who had opted to use his father's Blue Badge rather than buy a permit.In this case the man was the owner of a silk shop.We thought that three cars was a good morning's work so we started walking to the Town Hall.However,on the way back I spotted a very smart looking BMW with a child seat in the back.My first thought was if you were a disabled parent this would not be  a very easy car to lift a child in and out of,but a quick call back to the council from Steve and it turned out it was actually the child that was disabled.However the child was at school and the parents were just using the badge to go shopping to avoid paying the parking fees.This car was not towed the pound like the others,but a PCN was issued to the vehicle and the owner will need to attend a formal interview.Back at the Town Hall I met up with Councillor Lorna Campbell who is the Cabinet Member for Environment and Sustainability.She fully supports the work of the fraud team and is eager for other councils to follow their lead.In the last six months alone,the fraud team identified 178 separate offences of abuse,removed 60 fraudulently used Blue Badges from circulation.and recovered £7,724 pounds in court fines and cost as a result of prosecuting 28 offences.
Ashley Brandon is happy to Help other Councils in London;Councils are only charged for their services at coast price.
During 2011,the team worked in partnership with Croydon Council in Undercovering 138 offences of Blue Badge fraud,for which there have been more than 10 individuals prosecuted,and a total of 75 fraudulently used badges have been removed from circulation,which equates to a potentially save a driver around £500K by tackling fraud.Each Blue Badge can potentially save a driver around£7.5K in parking fees and a further £3.5K in congestion charging over a period of one year.When considering how much local authorities and government agencies can lose,this is a good argument for stamping out fraud.

Join Our Campaign To Stamp Out Blue Badge Fraud.

Ideally we would like to see all local Authorities tackling fraud in this way.Just issuing a parking ticket is not enough of a deterrent to stop people using other people's badges,we want more people to receive much larger fines and receive criminal records.
Blue Badge abuse is not a vicitmless crime as it stops disabled people from being able to park and get on with their lives.
To help our campaign we would like every member to write to their local MP  and ask them what they are doing to tackle Blue Badge fraud and explain why it is so important that this issue is addressed.If you don't know who your local MP is you can find out by visiting and putting in your post code.I have put a sample letter on our website if you're not sure what to write and you don't have access to the internet we can send you copy in the post. The more MPS who are aware of the issue the more likely local authorities are to take action.

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