Blue Badge abuser prosecuted and ordered to pay £3,504

Published

An individual has been prosecuted as part of an initiative by Councils in Suffolk to tackle the abuse of the Blue Badge scheme.

Peter Harrell, of Jasmine Road, Red Lodge, pleaded not guilty on 27 May 2022 at Ipswich Magistrates to altering a blue badge with the intent to deceive, contrary to section 115 of the Road Traffic Act 1984. During a trial on 10 August 2022, Mr Harrell was found guilty and fined £660, and was also ordered to pay investigatory and legal costs of £2778 and a surcharge of £66.

Mr Harrell was parked on the Access to Guineas Service Road in Newmarket in November 2021 when a Civil Parking Enforcement Officer (CEO) from West Suffolk District Council noticed that on the badge on display in Mr Harrell’s vehicle the expiry date had been tampered with and the photo defaced and told him that it would be seized.

Mr Harrell told the CEO that the badge belonged to his mother, but an investigation by Suffolk County Council’s Counter-Fraud Service found that she had passed away in August 2020 and the badge had been cancelled the following month. It should then have been returned to the council’s Blue Badge team.

Councillor Beccy Hopfensperger, Cabinet Member for Adult Care at Suffolk County Council, said:

“This prosecution sends a clear message that the misuse of a Blue Badge will not be tolerated in Suffolk. This is not a victimless crime. Illegally using a badge that isn’t yours is denying a disabled parking space to one of the 43,000 registered Blue Badge holders in Suffolk who have a genuine need for them.

“I would like to thank our Counter Fraud Service for their work alongside the district and borough councils in tackling Blue Badge misuse as part of our ongoing commitment to helping the people of Suffolk to live happy and independent lives.”

Kathy Bole, Chair of Suffolk Coalition of Disabled People (SCODP), said:

“I want to commend the County Council for the action they are taking with regard to the misuse of Blue Badges. It boggles the mind how rife this problem is and how flagrant the abusers are. Disabled people who are physically or psychologically impaired including children need these badges to be safe.”

Councillor Peter Stevens, Portfolio Holder for Operations at West Suffolk Council, said:

“Parking enforcement has been introduced to reduce pollution, help emergency services access, improve safety, and boost the local economy. But it is also there to reduce fraud such as the misuse or alteration of blue badges so people who are entitled to them can park in the places designated for them. It may be tempting for some to use a blue badge after someone has died or no longer needs it, but this is against the law and means others who really need that space or to use a blue badge can’t. Our civil parking enforcement officers regularly patrol West Suffolk and they are looking out for this type of fraud.”

Anyone who believes that a Blue Badge is being misused can report this in confidence to Suffolk County Council.