Department for Transport
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New anti-fraud measure for disabled parking scheme unveiled

New anti-fraud measure for disabled parking scheme unveiled

DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT News Release (050) issued by The Government News Network on 13 March 2008

New Blue Badge passes are to be issued in a tamper-proof laminated casing as part of the drive to combat abuse of the parking concession for people with disabilities.

The laminated cover means that any attempt to manipulate the details contained on the badge will leave permanent damage making it immediately obvious that the badge has been tampered with.

This change builds on other anti-fraud measures announced in October 2007 such as a new hologram on the badge and a gender-specific serial number to aid parking enforcement.

Transport Minister Rosie Winterton announced the new measure during a speech to the British Parking Association, where she called upon local authority parking services to step-up efforts to reduce theft, forgery and misuse of the scheme. Referring to Councils who have shown genuine leadership in tackling cheats she said:

"We need to be proactive about tackling Blue Badge abuse. That is why I have been extremely impressed with the work of the surveillance teams in Wandsworth, Manchester and Liverpool, for example, who actively pursue and prosecute serial misusers and target 'hot spots' such as parking at football matches.

"Through a mix of protective and enforcement measures we can make a big difference not only to how the scheme is used but also how it is respected by the wider community."

The Minister also urged delegates to take part in the current review of the Blue Badge scheme. A consultation was launched in January 2008 with a number of proposals to update the scheme. This will be backed by further research throughout spring 2008 looking at how the scheme can be adapted to the needs of the 21st Century.

Rosie Winterton added:

"I am committed to ensuring the Blue Badge Scheme continues to provide essential parking for disabled people. That is why I want as many interested parties as possible to take part in the current review. We welcome all views about how the scheme could be made more secure and better policed against the cheats who steal, forge or misuse the Badge."

The final date for responses to the consultation to be received by the Department for Transport is 17 April 2008.

Notes to Editors

1. Rosie Winterton was speaking at the British Parking Association Conference in London.

2. The Disabled Person's Parking Badge Scheme ("the Blue Badge Scheme") was introduced in 1971 to provide a national arrangement of on-street parking concessions for disabled people, allowing them to access goods and services more easily.

Consultation

3. The Department for Transport published a consultation of the Blue Badge Scheme on 24 January 2008. Proposals under consideration include:

- Extending the reach of the scheme, for example so that more parents of severely disabled children are eligible for a Badge;

- Providing parking attendants with the power to confiscate on-the-spot Blue Badges that have been stolen, forged or being fraudulently used;

- Creating a system of national data sharing to identify blue badge cheats;

The final date for responses to be received by the Department for Transport is 17 April 2008. The full consultation document is available on http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/open/bluebadgereformstrategy/

4. The Department has set up stakeholder working groups and a full programme of market and economic research to run in parallel with the consultation. The groups will include key people from disability organisations with whom the Department will work closely on developing proposals.

Review

5. In May 2007 an independent consultant, Rob Smith, was commissioned to conduct a review of the Blue Badge Scheme. He did this through a mixture of desk-based research and stakeholder interviews. The findings have been considered as part of the preliminary formulation of the comprehensive Blue Badge reform strategy. The final report is available at: http://www.dft.gov.uk/transportforyou/access/bluebadge/bluebadgereform/bluebadgeindepreview.pdf

Centres of Excellence

6. On 24 January 2008, the Department for Transport published revised local authority guidance on the Blue Badge Scheme to promote fairness and prevent fraud and abuse. The new guidance, which showcases good practice in administering and enforcing the Scheme, is available at http://www.dft.gov.uk/access/localauthorityguidance

7. The DfT has also made £500,000 available to fund a small set of local authorities to improve their services and share their good practice with neighbouring authorities in the 2008-2009 financial year.

However the DfT are now looking to appoint a suite of local authorities to act as centres of excellence in relation to the Scheme.

Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300
Department for Transport Website: http://www.dft.gov.uk

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