Blue Badge crime is only getting worse and urgent changes are needed to protect vulnerable drivers

Fake Blue Badge and a real Blue Badge

Fake Blue Badges have been on the rise in recent years

BBFI/GETTY
Paul Slowey

By Paul Slowey


Published: 21/06/2024

- 06:00

Paul Slowey, Founder and Chief Executive of Blue Badge Fraud Investigations (BBFI), spoke to GB News about the prevalence of Blue Badge theft and how local authorities need to make urgent changes to help motorists

On May 24 - The National Blue Badge Day of Action - I was out on the streets of Westminster, searching for stolen, fake and misused Blue Badges.

Despite the affluence of the area, it is not exempt from crime. Within two hours, I had seized three Blue Badges - one of which had been taken from a family member without their knowledge or permission, a photocopy made, and was being used to get free parking in a dedicated disabled bay whilst the perpetrator gathered supplies for their work as a builder.


Another had been issued to a family member who had passed away in 2022 and was now being used in their daughter's car to get free parking in a dedicated disabled bay.

As the day went on more and more were discovered – stolen, fraudulently made and more.

Do you have a story you'd like to share? Get in touch by emailingmotoring@gbnews.uk

Blue Badge

Blue Badge holders receive parking exemptions

GETTY

What might seem like an action-packed morning out in the field is, in reality, a stark reflection of the rampant misuse and disregard for the Blue Badge scheme.

On the National Blue Badge Day of Action, I was one of nine investigators from Blue Badge Fraud Investigations (BBFI) working across 10 different London boroughs to seize stolen and fraudulently made badges.

This is not an isolated incident.

After 24 years of fighting against this crime, it is disheartening to report that the situation has only worsened, with the severity of the issue increasing year after year.

Figures released recently show that the number of Blue Badge thefts in London has more than quadrupled in the last decade.

Released in response to a written question from Unmesh Desai, a Labour member of the London Assembly, the figures show that in London in 2014, 1,230 badges were reported stolen.

However, in 2023, a staggering 6,415 were reported stolen - an increase of 421 per cent.

Blue Badges are not just a piece of paper; they are a lifeline for people with disabilities or health conditions, enabling them to park closer to their destination.

It's crucial to understand that behind every single one of those 6,415 stolen badges is a person or a family unit whose freedom, independence and security has been shattered.

This is far from a "victimless crime".

For legitimate users of the scheme, what we may take for granted as "simple tasks" like hopping on the tube or grabbing a taxi can become arduous, costly, and, at times, even impossible.

A Blue Badge is not just about convenience; it's a key to work, education, and community activities for those with disabilities, as well as promoting social inclusion and economic participation.

It also supports caregivers by making their responsibilities more manageable, thereby significantly improving the quality of life for disabled individuals.

Surely, the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its more vulnerable members, but as of now, an average of 18 Londoners per day who rely on the Blue Badge scheme fall victim to crime purely because some callous thief has decided that their desire to save a little money and time is more important than other people's rights and freedoms. This is unacceptable.

There is no excuse for such behaviour, and it underscores the urgent need to protect and support disabled individuals and ensure they can access the mobility and independence the Blue Badge scheme is designed to provide.

No user of the scheme should be frightened to use their badge; no user should have to be worried about locking the badge in a cage in their car or budgeting for the cost of a smashed windscreen in case crime comes calling.

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS:

An old Blue Badge parking noticeBlue Badges help disabled motorists park closer to their required destinations PA

We're urging all local authorities across London and the Metropolitan Police to urgently review how they tackle Blue Badge theft in their communities and all members of the public to ask candidates in the upcoming elections how they plan to tackle this issue.

Together, we can send a clear message to thieves that their actions are not acceptable and ensure that disabled members of our communities are protected from this type of attack on their freedoms.

By buying a stolen badge and using it you become an offender: no matter what techniques you use, no matter how clever you think you are, stolen badges are easy to identify, and the courts take a very dim view of drivers who use them—as should we all.

By Paul Slowey, Founder and Chief Executive of Blue Badge Fraud Investigations (BBFI)

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