Four men have been charged following an operation to tackle human trafficking and serious organised crime in West Lothian.
Warning Over Blue Badge Abuse
Police officers in Scotland can now immediately identify people who misuse Blue Badge disabled parking permits.
An agreement, with all 32 local authorities in Scotland, now means that officers can access real-time information on the Blue Badge Improvement Service database, allowing them to immediately identify people who are abusing the scheme.
The main thrust of extending access to the database for Police Scotland is to allow better enforcement and to support local authorities in identifying misuse of disabled parking permits. The administration and management of the scheme remains the responsibility of local authorities.
Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick said: "The Blue Badge scheme is an important resource for people who really need it. Those who abuse the scheme make life harder for people who need to have access to places such as medical centres and social facilities.
"Abuse of the scheme can be as simple as a driver using a disabled relative's badge contrary to its conditions or failing to return a badge when the user no longer needs it. It is important that people realise not only are they making life harder for others, but they may also be committing fraud, if they use a Blue Badge to obtain free parking to which they are not entitled.
"Working in partnership with local authorities across the country, our officers will now be able to verify instantly any Blue Badge issued anywhere in Scotland. This means that we will be able to tackle those people who selfishly, and sometimes fraudulently, abuse the Blue Badge scheme."
Minister for Transport & Islands Derek Mackay said: "This is a fantastic tool that will help local authorities in their bid to tackle abuse of the Blue Badge scheme.
"Misuse of the scheme can have a significant impact on the lives of badge holders throughout Scotland that is why I am pleased Police Scotland is working collaboratively with local authorities to send a clear message that abuse of the scheme will not be tolerated."
The agreement has also been welcomed by Susan Grasekamp, chief executive officer of the Scottish Disability and Equality Forum, who said: "The Scottish Disability Equality Forum is delighted that Police Scotland is taking the issue of Blue Badge misuse seriously. The access to the BBIS database means that the right people are able to use the badge and that it is not open to abuse."
Councillor Stephen Hagan, from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, said: "COSLA Members welcome the ability for local authorities to better enforce the use of Blue Badges and to quickly address situations where badges are being misused through this agreement. Members agreed that enforcement proposal was good common sense and is part of Scottish Local Government's commitment to supporting the rights of people with disabilities in Scotland as outlined in our recently published COSLA UNCRPD (United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities) Delivery Plan."
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