A council’s efforts to crack down on blue badge fraud has won it a national award.
Blue badges are reserved for elderly and disabled motorists to make parking easier, but the system is regularly abused, denying people the parking spaces they are entitled to.
Now Lambeth Council’s parking fraud investigations team – which has successfully prosecuted more than 350 cases of blue badge fraud since 2006 – has been rewarded for its work cracking down on the problem by being named ‘Enforcement Team of the Year’ at the British Parking Awards.
The council made it a priority in 2006 to tackle the problem by prosecuting those who are found using stolen or counterfeit badges, or badges that don’t belong to them.
The council’s policy of identifying, prosecuting and publicising those guilty of cheating the system has seen 354 people being brought to justice. Lambeth beat off tough competition from fellow finalists Wandsworth, Enfield and the DVLA for the title at a prestigious national ceremony.
Councillor Sally Prentice, Lambeth Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Our parking fraud team does an absolutely crucial job in protecting the rights of older and disabled people, and ensuring they have access to the parking spaces that are reserved for them. This award is fantastic recognition of the work the team does week in week out, and I’m pleased that Lambeth has been recognised as national leaders in this field.”
The council’s parking fraud investigation team works closely with the borough’s parking wardens to monitor blue badges being used on the streets and checking them against databases to ensure they are being used by the people they belong to.
They also carry out operations with the police to identify offenders.
A thriving trade exists in stolen blue badges, which are often obtained by breaking into disabled peoples’ cars. Lambeth Council operates a ‘White Badge’ scheme to combat this problem. The white badge allows holders to park in disabled bays overnight without having to display their blue badge. White badges show the vehicle registration number which means they are no use to anyone else and therefore are unlikely to be targeted by thieves. To learn how to apply for a white badge phone 020 7926 5555 or visit www.lambeth.gov.uk
78 per cent of the people prosecuted for committing blue badge fraud were from outside Lambeth, with just 22 per cent being Lambeth residents.