A crackdown on people misusing blue badges for the disabled has begun.

Redbridge council enforcement officers have been handed powers previously given to police to confiscate badges for suspected misuse.

Misuse includes lending a badge to someone else or using a fake or altered badge.

Blue badge abuse is said to cost the taxpayer £46m per year. 

Under the new powers, anyone caught misusing a badge by the council's officers can be fined up to £1000.

Disablility groups praised the new initiative.

Helen Dolphin, director of policy and campaigns for disabled motoring UK, said: “I’m really delighted to hear the council is tackling blue badge fraud head on.

“I believe their initiative will really make people stop and think twice before attempting to doctor or misuse a blue badge, which only serve to deprive a disabled person from parking."

Jon Abrams, of Redbridge Disability Consortium, said: “While for the majority, a trip to the high street is simply routine, for many disabled people it is often a journey which is time consuming and full of obstacles and hurdles made all the more difficult when one is unable to park close to where one needs to be.

"This is why the Blue Badge Scheme is of such importance to this group, and why we support Redbridge Council’s efforts to protect it."