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Sussex fraudsters use blue badges belonging to dead
Scores of motorists were caught fraudulently using blue disabled badges last year including some belonging to people who had died.
Councils across Sussex revealed they caught more than 140 people using the badges, which are issued to disabled people to help them park nearer to local facilities and for free in some car parks, when they should not have been.
Investigators found dishonest drivers defrauded councils by tampering with information on badges, making copies of them, using badges that were expired or stolen, using badges that belonged to friends or relatives and even three cases of using badges that belonged to the deceased.
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West Sussex County Council recorded 90 incidents of misuse in 2013, the majority of which were dealt with by issuing warning letters.
Brighton and Hove City Council said it passed 40 cases of misuse or fraud to Sussex Police in 2013 for investigation, but could not provide further detail as it was changing the way it investigated such cases.
East Sussex County Council said it removed 12 badges from circulation as a result of proven misuse or fraud and issued parking fines as way of punishment.
Additionally, the authority said a total of 302 badge holders were assessed in clinic that year and were not renewed because they were no longer eligible.
East Sussex County Council said although the number of blue badges the authority seized was a small proportion to the total in circulation, the scale of fraudulent use of badges was “likely to be much greater”.
A spokesman added: “We have recently been working very hard with our own parking enforcement officers, police officers and PCSOs to train them to spot badges which may be being misused.
“We also regularly hold action days, the most recent of which was held in January, where we join forces with the police and bailiffs to target blue badge misuse in a particular area.
“Misuse of a blue badge is a criminal offence and people who cheat the system are cheating the vast majority of motorists who obey the rules, and taking up spaces which are needed by genuine blue badge holders.”
A spokesman for West Sussex County Council added: “West Sussex has an integrated approach to managing blue badges.
“There is increasing co-operation between neighbouring authorities, and the development of a national database for blue badges has really helped.”
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