An investigation carried out by City of York Council has uncovered and successfully prosecuted a case of disabled blue badge fraud.
Andrew Nichol, aged 61 of Stonegate Court, York, was caught misusing a family member’s blue badge in the city centre earlier this year. An investigation into the misuse was conducted by Veritau, the council’s fraud investigation service, following information from a parking officer.
Blue badges make it easier for people with disabilities to travel and maintain independence. However, they are open to abuse. Under the regulations, a blue badge can only be used when the badge holder is present, or being picked up or dropped off.
On 21 February the blue badge was spotted by a council parking officer, displayed in a parked vehicle on Duncombe Place. The badge’s details were checked by the fraud team and the badge holder’s location could not be verified.
When Mr Nichol returned to the vehicle, he told the parking officer that the badge holder was at his home and he was going to pick them up. Investigators later found that the owner of the blue badge was not waiting to be picked up by the driver.
Mr Nichol was asked to participate in a written interview under caution but failed to respond. The investigation concluded with him being prosecuted under the Road Traffic Act 1984 for wrongful use of a disabled person’s badge.
No plea was entered and Mr Nichol failed to attend court, but the case was heard in his absence at York Magistrates’ Court on 9 October 2020. He was found guilty and received a fine, plus court costs and a victim surcharge, totalling £1,169.
Councillor Denise Craghill, City of York Council’s Executive Member with portfolio for fraud, said: “This case demonstrates that the council takes blue badge misuse seriously. This defendant used a badge belonging to someone else, parked in a restricted zone and could have prevented someone with a genuine need from using the parking place.”
Any members of the public with information on fraudulent activity are encouraged to phone the anonymous fraud hotline on 0800 9179 247, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.