More than 4,000 blue badges were stolen in 2017-18 – a 45% increase on the previous period.
That’s according to figures uncovered by the PA, showing thefts of the disabled driver badges are soaring as people continue to misuse them to secure better parking.
Phil Talbot, spokesperson for disability charity Scope, said that it is “disgraceful” that local councils have “failed” to take action against people misusing blue badges at a time when thefts are on the rise.
According to the PA, more than 60% of councils did not prosecute individuals abusing the blue badge scheme during the period.
Talbot said: “Stealing blue badges isn’t a crime without consequences. They are a vital lifeline for those who genuinely need them.
“Many disabled people rely on their blue badge to live independently, be part of the local community and contribute to their local economy.
“The police and councils need to do all they can to ensure they are serving their disabled residents by cracking down on this abuse.”
Some councils carried out zero prosecutions, including Nottingham, Middlesbrough, Shropshire, Luton, Milton Keynes, Bournemouth and Reading.
Nearly 2.5m people in England use blue badges to park freely in pay and display areas and a total of 1,215 prosecutions were launched in the UK during the period, all of which involved driver’s using someone else’s blue badge.
Blue badges are issued by councils and exempt them from congestion charge. London boroughs recorded the highest number of misuse prosecutions in England.
Martin Tett, the transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, said that councils have to take “tough decisions” on targeting limited resources on enforcement.
“Gathering evidence and mounting a prosecution can be time-consuming and expensive but councils know their areas and are best placed to decide the most effective way to tackle it.”