A 31-year-old Dartford woman caught using her grandmother's disabled parking badge is the first to be prosecuted by the county council this year for Blue Badge fraud.

Laura Halford, of Watling Street, appeared before Sevenoaks Magistrates' Court on January 25 where she admitted to misusing using the badge to park in disabled parking spaces.

Halford was handed a three-year conditional discharge and must pay £750 after pleading guilty to four counts of fraud.

Under the rules governing the Blue Badge scheme, it is a criminal offence for a badge-holder or anyone else to misuse the badge and doing so could result in a £1,000 fine and confiscation of the badge.

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Kent County Council’s counter-fraud team launched an investigation after receiving several reports of Halford’s car displaying a Greenwich Council badge in Sevenoaks District Council car parks.

The authority’s civil enforcement officers issued her with a penalty charge notice after CCTV footage showed her parked in Buckhurst car park on January 2, 2018.

Halford appealed the notice but was caught parking in a disabled bay in Suffolk Way car park the following day and received a second penalty charge.

The badge holder was not present on either occasion.

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Halford admitted false representation for the display of a Blue Badge and possession of an article for use in the course or connection of a fraud.

Paul Rock, counter-fraud manager, said: “The vast majority of Blue Badges in Kent are used correctly and where there is an allegation of misuse we will investigate.

"As a council, our focus is on correcting behaviour through education and working with district and borough councils to ensure compliance.

"Cautions are a balanced way of dealing with offenders without going through the time and expense of a prosecution.

"However, in this case, Mrs Halford did not attend any interviews under caution and the level of evidence gave us no choice but to proceed with a prosecution.

"We take Blue Badge fraud extremely seriously and we expect more prosecutions in the near future."