Busted: County and City crack down on blue badge abuse

Oxfordshire County Council, in partnership with Oxford City Councils Anti-Fraud Team undertook an on-street operation to detect and prevent abuse of the Blue Badge scheme in Oxfordshire last month.

During the operation, we checked over 650 badges, removing 18 for various offences and issuing seven Penalty Charge Notices to people parked in a disabled Bay without a Blue Badge. Blue Badge misuse is a criminal offence and can result in a fine of up to £1000 and a criminal record.

In 2017 the County Council conducted its first blue badge related prosecution. This resulted in the person abusing the blue badge (using a badge belonging to a deceased person) receiving a fine, paying court costs and receiving a criminal record.

Cllr Judith Heathcoat, Cabinet member for Customer Services said: “People should be aware that we are determined to enforce the law in this area. The blue badge system needs to operate with integrity and we are prepared to act to make sure it does. That is the message that should be heard loud and clear by those that think it is ok to abuse this service. “

Cllr Ed Turner, Oxford City Council's Board Member for Finance and Asset Management said: "Our anti-fraud team is once again working with the County Council to cut down on the misuse of blue badges. This is not a victimless crime: abuse of a blue badge can have a serious impact on those legitimate users who need a parking space. I am glad we are working together to clamp down on this fraudulent activity, and it is another example of how our anti-fraud team can have a positive impact.”

Blue badge abuse hotspot: Oxford centre

As well as removing Blue Badges from people who are misusing and abusing the scheme, the operation was also to raise awareness of the importance Blue Badges have for people who really need them. Many Oxfordshire residents rely on their Blue Badge to remain mobile and independent, enabling them to access goods and services that many of us take for granted.

The operation also targeted misuse of Disabled Parking Bays. When a disabled bay is being used by someone who does not have a legitimate blue badge, this can have serious implications for those who genuinely need to use the space. Inappropriate use of Disabled Parking Bays can result in Blue Badge holders missing medical appointments, not being able to get out to buy food, or not being able to get to work. Every space really does matter.

The operation targeted locations across the County including Hospitals, shopping centres and supermarkets. The greatest number of badges seized was Oxford centre and John Radcliff hospital.

Last month for the first time, we ran an amnesty for people to hand in their bogus or out of date blue badges and received only four. We hope that the amnesty and the enforcement will make people more aware that they should not be abusing the blue badge scheme. Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City are appealing to badge holders to return their old badges when they are issued with a new one or when the badge is no longer needed.

If the badge holder has died or the badge is no longer needed, please return it to the Blue Badge team at Blue Badge Administration, PO Box 873, Oxfordshire OX1 9NY explaining why it is being returned so we can update our records.