Police in Ealing are warning blue badge holders in the borough of a rise in badge thefts in Southall. They have told people to not leave the blue badges on display unless being used for parking purposes.
In a tweet and posting on facebook, Ealing Police said: “#BlueBadgeThieves are striking again; there has been a spate of Disabled Badge thefts in #Southall; please do not leave them on display when not in use. @metpoliceuk would like to speak to anyone with information regards to multiple thefts of disabled badges @BlueBadgeUK”.
One Southall resident, Harbinder told EALING.NEWS of his experience of blue badge theft: “My mum’s badge has been stolen several times. There seems to be professional gangs operating in Southall, stealing to order, but nothing is being done to stop this. We have CCTV cameras on motorists but there doesn’t seem to be much on helping motorists with having CCTV when people break into your car.”
The warning comes after Ealing Council revealed that from April 2021 to October 2022 , it has taken 88 people to court for illegally using blue badges issued to disabled residents.
The council has said that 3000 blue badges have been investigated with over 80 being taken away for suspected misuse. It added that dozens of penalty charge notices have been issued against those who shouldn’t be using the blue badges and six vehicles have been impounded by the Council.
Blue Badges are only provided to disabled drivers and people with mobility issues and need extra help. It is a criminal offence for anyone other than the blue badge holder to use the badge without the owner being with the vehicle. Penalties include fines up to £1000, criminal prosecution and even a prison sentence.
Councillor Deirdre Costigan, the council’s cabinet member for climate action, said: “We want to ensure that blue badges are available to the people who really rely on them for support. That is why we always take tough action against people who commit fraud. Our officers inspect and investigate in streets and town centres across the borough tracking down cases of misuse, taking fraudulent blue badges off our streets and fining and prosecuting individuals found to be breaking the law.”
She added: “People may think they are doing no harm if they quickly use a blue badge that does not belong to them, but what these drivers need to realise is that they are usually blocking someone with mobility problems from being able to park and are breaking the law. We will continue to work alongside the police to tackle misuse and fine and prosecute offenders wherever possible. We have seen an increase in thefts of blue badges in the borough recently. We urge local people to stay alert and report anything suspicious to the police.”
Anyone who suspects someone is using a blue badge fraudulently, or who would like to report a blue badge as being lost or stolen is asked to call 020 8825 8161.