A £55m overhaul of the disabled parking scheme means traffic wardens will now be able to confiscate forged or stolen blue badges.
The move aims to prevent abuse of the scheme, which allows people with limited mobility to park close to vital services such as shops, banks and hospitals.
Around 2.3 million badges are in use across the UK, but many are thought to have fallen into the wrong hands.
Stolen blue badges
Transport Minister Paul Clark, who announced the crackdown this week, said stolen blue badges are being sold on the black market for as much as £1,500 each.
He added: ‘Two thirds of councils tell us abuse of the scheme is a major issue – and that around one in every 200 badges in circulation are reported as stolen each year’.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is now looking to adopt new technology that makes it more difficult for people to use forged blue badges, including barcodes that can be read through windscreens.
Blue badge database
The government’s plans are backed by a £10m database that will allow local authorities to identify stolen or forged badges from outside their local area.
Helen Smith, director of policy and campaigns at mobility charity Mobilise, said she hoped the crackdown would help disabled people to get around more easily.
‘Unfortunately too many people are misusing and abusing blue badges and this means the scheme is no longer benefiting the people that it should,’ she said.
‘Only by ensuring that people meeting the qualifying criteria are issued with badges and abuse of the scheme is taken very seriously will the scheme work again as it was intended.’
Blue badge eligibility
Under the new plans, independent medical assessors will check that only those who need a blue badge receive one.
Assessments will be standardised across the country, the DfT said, and nine councils have already begun working together to share best practice in enforcing the scheme.
The scheme is also likely to be extended so some people with the severe mental impairments, children under the age of three with specific medical conditions, some people with temporary medical conditions (lasting a minimum of one year) and some injured armed forces personnel will be eligible for a blue badge.
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