Blitz on blue badge cheats launched

Transport Minister Paul Clark has announced a crackdown on the abuse of the disabled parking system in England, it has been revealed.

Introduced 40 years ago, the blue badge system is used by about 2.3 million people across the country. Figures show that around one in every 200 badges is stolen, with some London boroughs dealing with hundreds of cases a year of stolen, forged, borrowed and misused badges.

Councils say the problem of stolen and forged passes is now "rife" and they need tougher powers to question drivers and seize illegitimate permits.

Earlier this year police in Brighton, East Sussex, launched a crackdown on the fraudulent use of badges, an offence which carries a fine of up to £1,000.

Mr Clark said: "We very much have to find a practical way through to help what is a vital lifeline to 2.3 million blue badge users. I think we can do that and we will be able to do it.

"We have already taken certain steps in terms of improving the security and the issue of blue badges. We also last year issued guidance to people who have blue badges about the rights and responsibilities."

Liz Sayce, the chief executive of disability network Radar, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "At the moment you are typically fined up to £1,000; some people actually make the calculation that you can save £5,000 in parking costs so risk the £1,000. So I think fines should go up."

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