Published: 21:00, 09 January 2019
| Updated: 21:01, 09 January 2019
Medway Council is to launch a crackdown on blue badge misuse after admitting it has brought about zero convictions against motorists caught abusing the system.
Although the authority’s parking enforcement team already carries out “proactive days” to tackle the issue, red-handed motorists are only given a warning letter threatening prosecution if they are caught again.
Misuse includes parking in a disabled space without the blue badge holder being in the vehicle.
Head of audit and counter fraud James Larkin explained: “It is an offence under the Highways Act which they can be prosecuted for.
“The costs associated with that are obviously quite high, so there has to be a question of whether it is in the public interest to spend that public money to deal with it.”
It was recently revealed there were 1,215 prosecutions for blue badge misuse in England during 2017-18, although 62% of local authorities had not brought about any prosecutions in that time.
Although counter-fraud officers will join the parking enforcement team on occasions as part of the crackdown in Medway, Mr Larkin insists the drive will still be focused on “educating”.
He added: “A fraud officer speaking to them (motorists abusing blue badges) might focus the mind a little bit more as they tend not to take much notice of enforcement officers.
“We will also be looking to have someone set up to access the blue badge records, so we will live check the vehicles parked and make phone calls to the blue badge holders asking where they are.
“If they are at home, and the blue badge is in their son’s car and he is at work – for example – a penalty charge notice will be issued and he’ll be getting a warning.
“It’s about education at the moment, rather than enforcement.
"That’s not to say they won’t be prosecuted, but to date there have not been any.”