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Blue badge thefts treble in three years, council chiefs

Blue badge theft and criminality is on the increase Credit: PA

Blue badge theft has trebled in three years, while the number of those caught abusing the scheme has risen dramatically, council chiefs have warned.

The badges enable disabled people to park for free in pay and display bays and for up to three hours on yellow lines. In London, they exempt holders from paying the congestion charge.

But in 2015 there were a recorded 2,056 instances of blue badge theft in England - a 17% increase on the previous year - according to statistics.

656
Number of blue badge thefts in 2013

The Local Government Association said the increase has been accompanied by a rise in the number of people prosecuted by councils for using stolen or lost badges to park for free dishonestly.

According to LGA statistics, the proportion of people caught abusing the scheme has almost trebled in five years - with the number of such incidents standing at 330 in 2010.

985
Number of people prosecuted for abusing the scheme in 2015

The LGA is now calling on people to help the UK's councils further crack down on the problem.

The theft of blue badges is clearly a crime on the rise and it is alarming that incidents have trebled in just three years.

Illegally using a blue badge is not a victimless crime. For disabled people, blue badges are a vital lifeline that helps them get out and about to visit shops or family and friends.

Callous thieves and unscrupulous fraudsters using them illegally are robbing disabled people of this independence.

– Martin Tett, LGA transport spokesman

Mr Tett said councils "come down hard" on motororists who use stolen blue badges.

"It is important to catch these criminals in the act," he said.

"To help councils win the fight against blue badge fraud, residents must keep tipping us off about people they suspect are illegally using a badge, bearing in mind people's need for a badge might not always be obvious".