Paralympics catalyst for renewed crackdown on disabled badge fraud in Soho
By poppy_smith | Wednesday, September 26, 2012, 20:00
The success of the Paralympic Games should help people recognise the problems that disabled motorists and pedestrians face, says Westminster City Council ahead of a renewed fraud crackdown.
During the 11 days of the games, the council gave out warning notes instead of parking tickets to cars parked in disabled bays. Now the council is announcing a tougher stance than ever on deliberate fraudulent use of disabled badges.
Cllr Daniel Astaire, cabinet member for business, said: "Parking in the centre of London should be safe and easy for people with disabilities, in Westminster we have 786 dedicated spaces.
"Drivers who shamefully park in disabled spots reserved for those who need them are the lowest of the low. We hope the Paralympics, and our campaign, has raised awareness of the issues. Now we will be taking a tough stance on this type of fraud – there is no excuse."
Since April 2012, the council has received 30 tip offs that have led to 23 investigations, bringing five prosecutions. Streets with particular problems are Edgware Road and Church Street and areas around Marylebone and Maida Vale also suffer.
The issue of disabled badge fraud in Westminster is amplified by the already congested streets and spaces in the city – but the council has pledge to come down hard on those that ignore the law. Those that are caught can face up to a £1,000 fine.
A number of measures will be taken to tackle disabled badge fraud. They are:
- Regular and proactive patrols with police officers
- An awareness campaign throughout the Paralympics to highlight the issues
- Where necessary, stepping up enforcement with a tougher approach on those that use a family member's badge illegally
- Pushing for greater maximum fines
- A dedicated hotline for people to report fraud whenever they see it (they can remain anonymous) - 0800 028 9888
Westminster City Council has already embarked on a programme to lay down double yellow lines at dropped kerbs to assist access for disabled pedestrians, with the majority of work done in Mayfair.
This led to a 60 per cent drop in tickets being given out as the rate of compliance increased compared to the same time period in the previous year.
After the extra double yellow lines were introduced the number of parking tickets given out at dropped kerbs in the West End (In the Week beginning Feb 13 2012) was 67, down from 184 at the same time in 2011. In 2010 the figure was 197.