An Ealing resident who was the victim of blue badge theft has said more needs to be done in the borough to deter thieves from stealing blue badges.
Ian Rex-Hawkes, from Mount Park Road in Ealing, had his driver window smashed and the blue badge on display stolen.
Speaking to EALING.NEWS, Mr Rex-Hawkes said he considers what happened to him as a hate crime. He said: “It should probably be treated as a hate crime, as it targets disabled individuals specifically.”
He also said that fines are not strong enough for those stealing and using stolen blue badges. “The current penalty is £1000 for those caught using a blue badge illegally. To my mind, they should be forced to pay a lot more to go specifically into the hands of those who have suffered damage as a result.”
Mr Rex-Hawkes revealed he only just got his blue badge last year. “I finally got my blue badge after a lengthy fight with Ealing Council last year. I have it because I have a fungal brain infection that means I lose balance and fall over quite regularly, plus I tire very easily when walking any appreciable distance.”
When it came to reporting the theft, Mr Rex-Hawkes said he didn’t get much support from the police. He revealed: “I got a crime reference number, but the police didn’t even come to the scene before deciding that the case was unsolvable and needed to be closed. I have also been in touch with Ealing council to discover how prevalent this type of problem is on that street, and then I will ask the question of why they haven’t put up CCTV in crime hotspots.”
Mr Rex-Hawkes has a message to those who are stealing badges and those who use them when they shouldn’t: “It’s far from a victimless crime. You are stealing a lifeline. Without this badge and with my car needing repairs, I am wholly reliant on my wife to drive me anywhere I need to go, and given we both have full-time jobs and she is currently pregnant, this is far from ideal.”
Speaking to EALING.NEWS about blue badge theft in Ealing, Chief Inspector James Herring of West Area Neighbourhoods said: “The theft of blue badges is a recognised and ongoing problem within the Ealing Borough as it is across many London Boroughs.
“Our Safer Neighbourhood Teams have run multiple proactive operations, focusing on peak times and hotspot locations in order to catch offenders in the act.
“The Safer Neighbourhood Teams have also undertaken property marking events in order to better identify stolen blue badges and have offered crime prevention advice at these and other events and online via our social media platforms, such as purchasing a blue badge protector, or storing your badge in a secure location when the badge is not being used.
“We are working closely with Ealing Council around measures to prevent thefts and to identify and hold to account those involved in theft of these items. Those residents who have a disabled bay at their home can use the free Council’s digital car parking permit, meaning they do not need to leave their blue badge in their vehicle when parked in their dedicated bay; more details on this can be found on the council’s website: Parking permits | Ealing Council.”