Drivers in Buckinghamshire were hauled to court more than a dozen times last year for allegedly abusing the Blue Badge parking scheme.

The AA says an increase in prosecutions across England shows that more areas are starting to tackle Blue Badge fraud, but says that just two-thirds of councils having a policy for dealing with the misdemeanour as "shocking".

Department for Transport statistics shows there were 17 prosecutions for misusing the Blue Badge scheme in Buckinghamshire in 2018-19 – compared to none in the previous year.

All of them were targeted at non-badge holders using someone else’s badge, not badge holders themselves.

Blue Badges are issued by councils to people with disabilities and allow them to park closer to their destination.

Last year, the Bucks Free Press reported how Bucks County Council had launched a scheme in June 2018 aimed at cracking down on drivers who are misusing Blue Badges.

Across England, drivers abusing the system were prosecuted on 1,432 occasions in 2018-19, an 18 per cent increase on the year before.

Of those, 99 per cent were against non-badge holders.

However, a third of councils said they did not have a policy for prosecuting Blue Badge abuse.

The AA says the increase in prosecutions shows that more areas are “finally starting to tackle the issue”, but criticised councils without policies on the issue.

Edmund King, the motoring association’s president, added: “Councils without a policy must get their act together for the sake of the millions of Blue Badge holders who genuinely need them.

“Drivers must also show some more humanity and stop abusing the system.”

A spokesman for the Local Government Association said people could help their council win the fight against Blue Badge fraud by tipping off the local authority about suspected misuse.

But he added that members of the public should bear in mind that “people’s need for a badge might not be obvious”.

While the number of people across the country who are automatically entitled to a Blue Badge has risen gradually since 2014, the proportion of those who have one has dropped.

In Buckinghamshire, 54 per cent of the 10,500 people who automatically qualified had one at the end of March.

Although local data was not available for 2014, the figure stood at 78 per cent in March 2015.

Across England, 47 per cent of those eligible had a badge in March, down from a peak of 64 per cent five years earlier.

Sue Bott, from the charity Disability Rights UK, said: “We have concerns based on anecdotal evidence that where benefit assessments have become more draconian, people are losing their Motability vehicles as a result of losing benefits to which they should be entitled.

“This may be a factor in the downward trend of Blue Badge use.”

Earlier this year, the DfT announced that the scheme would be extended to people with hidden disabilities, and launched a review into Blue Badge fraud.