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Fraud and prosecutions, Transport and streets

Lambeth Council’s expertise at tackling blue badge fraud spreads beyond its boundaries

Lambeth Council has helped Croydon Council identify more than 130 blue disability badge fraud offences during a joint crackdown.

The pilot scheme which ran last year has now been extended, with Lambeth and Croydon councils again working together to tackle the problem.

Since the joint initiative restarted on April 8 more than 40 new separate blue badge fraud offences have already been uncovered.

The initial push to combat the fraud saw a Lambeth Investigations Officer working in Croydon from January to August last year with operations run every two weeks.

After identifying the blue badge fraud offences around 70 forged, stolen or misused badges were removed from circulation in Croydon and 12 people prosecuted for various offences involving abuse of the scheme.

Lambeth Council is now offering its award winning expertise at tackling the problem to other local authorities.

Councillor Pete Robbins, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services, said: “Fraudsters don’t respect council borders.

“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 sharing our expertise with a neighbouring council we are stopping fraudsters in their tracks and tackling a problem that affects the whole of London.”

During the crackdown last year high street and town centre hot spots were targeted by the Lambeth Council officer who worked with Croydon’s parking wardens.

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.

Ashley Brandon, Lambeth Council’s Investigations Manager, said: “We are happy to talk to local authorities about how we can work with them to help them tackle this.

“Reducing abuse of this important scheme demonstrates a commitment to ensuring vulnerable members of the community get the support they need to lead as normal a life as possible.”

Blue badge fraudsters not only get the convenience of parking without paying, but can also get exemption from the congestion charge.

Helen Dolphin, Campaigns Manager at Disabled Motoring UK, backed Lambeth’s work after visiting the borough.

She said: “Spending the day with Lambeth’s Parking Investigations Team and catching numerous Blue Badge abusers was a very satisfying experience.

“It made me appreciate how seriously Lambeth takes this crime.”

Lambeth Council prosecuted its first case in 2006, and since then has successfully prosecuted more than 900 offences in total.

The success of Lambeth’s parking fraud investigators saw the unit named Enforcement Team of the Year at the British Parking Awards in 2010.

A thriving trade exists in stolen blue badges, which are often obtained by breaking into disabled peoples’ cars.

Lambeth Council runs 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 apply for a White Badge phone 020 7926 5555 or visit http://www.lambeth.gov.uk
ends

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