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Fraud and prosecutions, Transport and streets

Councils work together to target parking fraudsters

Lambeth Council is sharing its expertise at rooting out parking fraud with a neighbouring borough.

The council’s parking fraud investigation team will be working with parking colleagues in neighbouring Croydon over the coming weeks to identify people who break the law by using counterfeit blue badges, or badges that don’t belong to them.

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.

Lambeth parking fraud investigation officers will be working closely with Croydon 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 will also be carrying out operations with the police to identify offenders, and passing on the expertise that led to the team being named ‘Enforcement Team of the Year’ at the British Parking Awards last year.

Cllr Lorna Campbell, cabinet member for environment on Lambeth Council, said: “This is a great example of two councils working together to share skills and resources and reduce costs, benefitting residents and council tax payers of both boroughs.

“Fraudsters don’t respect council borders, and in fact more than 78 per cent of the people prosecuted for committing blue badge fraud by Lambeth Council in recent years were not Lambeth residents. By helping share our expertise with a neighbouring council we are stopping fraudsters in their tracks and tackling a problem that affects the whole of London.”

With more and more pressure on parking spaces, Blue badge fraud is a growing problem. Lambeth 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, and is nationally recognised as having led the way in combating the problem, prosecuting more than 350 people since 2006.

Cllr Phil Thomas, cabinet member for environment and highways on Croydon Council, said: “We’re pleased to be working with officers from Lambeth’s prize-winning team; both boroughs are members of Partners in Parking, the Londonwide cross-authority partnership, and it’s good that we’re able to pool our expertise and experience in this way.

“A team of officers with specific instructions to find blue badge abusers will be working all over Croydon in this latest leg of the council’s drive to bring an end to this crime.

“We know, from conversations with residents, and comments we’ve received following last year’s prosecutions, that people are with us, and are equally keen to see this nasty, antisocial offence stamped out.

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 http://www.lambeth.gov.uk.

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