Saturday, March 12, 2005

Theft of Disabled Badges

The Times highlights a growing problem in some of the major cities around the UK today, the theft of Disabled car badges. These permits are worth up to £1,000 on the black market as they exempt the owner from parking charges at parking meters, pay and display car parks as well as the ability to park on double yellow lines for up to three hours and so could save the new owner up to £1,500 over three years.

As the badges do not show any personal details on the windscreen side of the badge, and Traffic Wardens bizarrely are not allowed to check the badges until summer 2005, it's a low risk crime for thieves with high rewards for the middlemen who sell the badges on. No wonder the crime is growing!! You may expect the solution to be quite simple, print the car reg on the windscreen side of the badge over a tamper proof background with a hologram, similar to a concert ticket and the idea that Tower Hamlets adopted, but no, the Department of Transport has applied some lateral thinking to the problem and has come up with a database. A contract will be signed with a private firm for a feasibility study shortly. Looking into my crystal ball, they will recommend a database, cost £100m+, will be delivered over budget and late in four years time, and only able to do half of what was originally intended.

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