Oxfordshire County Council will crack down on the misuse of Blue Badges across the county and raise awareness of the consequences of their fraudulent use.
Many disabled people rely on their Blue Badge to help them live independently, take part in the local community and contribute to their local economy.
There are currently 22,500 Blue Badge holders across Oxfordshire, out of roughly 880,000 across the UK.
During the remainder of this year and January, Oxfordshire County Council and its partners will be carrying out anti-fraud and investigative work across the county and raising awareness of how Blue Badges should be used, to help free up spaces for disabled drivers.
Blue Badge misuse is a criminal offence which can lead to a £1,000 fine, confiscation of the badge and a criminal record.
A Blue Badge should not be used by a person it doesn’t belong to, if the person named on the badge is not in the vehicle or if the holder no longer qualifies for the badge or it is out of date.
Councillor Nick Carter, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for business and customer services said: “Illegally using a blue badge is not a victimless crime. For disabled people, blue badges are a vital lifeline that helps them maintain their independence and get out and about.
“It’s really important to us and to genuine Blue Badge holders that people don’t misuse the scheme and take up spaces needed by someone with genuine mobility problems.
“It’s extremely inconsiderate and in some cases can make the difference between someone being able to get out and be independent and just turning round and going home.”
Cllr Ed Turner, Oxford City Council’s deputy leader, said: “Abusing a Blue Badge is a crime, pure and simple. Some people may be tempted to use someone else’s genuine badge to run errands for them.
“They incorrectly think that what they are doing is not fraud - but it’s still a criminal offence and like all other badge abuses can lead to prosecution, a £1000 fine and a criminal conviction.”
Anyone who suspects that a blue badge is being misused can report their concerns at: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/bluebadge