A county-wide crackdown on blue badge fraud is hoped to make life easier for disabled drivers.
Norfolk County Council has revealed it is to place greater focus on ensuring blue badges are being used correctly, after it was estimated that 20% are misused in some way.
With 42,000 currently in use in Norfolk, the council has stressed the importance of making sure they are not being used either incorrectly, or fraudulently.
This could be as simple as allowing somebody else to use your badge, parking next to a lowered kerb or just refusing to show your badge when requested by a civil enforcement officer. It could also be displaying an out-of-date badge or parking too close to a junction.
Jim Blake, blue badge investigator for Norfolk County Council said: “More and more blue badges are being misused in some way around the county and this is a criminal matter. When blue badges are issued they come with a booklet that explains the correct usage, so my advice would be to thoroughly read these through.”
As part of the crackdown, civil enforcement officers will have a greater presence around the county - excluding Norwich, which governs its own street parking - to offer advice to help people understand how not to misuse their badges. They will also be logging details of when a blue badge is misused - so as to track re-offenders.
In the second half of the month, they will then begin to issue penalty charge notices, reporting offenders to the blue badge investigator, which may result in Magistrates’ Court summons and fines of up to £1,000.
Mr Blake added: “If a civil enforcement officer asks to see your badge, please let them do so as people using their own badge correctly have nothing to worry about.”
He also advised holders to carefully check when their badges expire, not to make photocopies, and to alert the council if they witness anybody using a blue badge fraudulently.
Graham Footer, chief executive of Disabled Motoring UK, said: “DMUK fully supports local authorities enforcing the blue badge scheme. Many local authorities are taking this problem seriously and use enforcement to protect the scheme for genuine blue badge holders. We hope this will encourage other local authorities to do the same.”