The PSNI have been called on to apologise to members of the Blue Badge Scheme after police were spotted parking in a disabled bay in Limavady.
The police van was spotted parked in the disabled bay on Main Street on Wednesday morning.
The Northwest Forum would demand that the PSNI apologise to the members of the Blue Badge Scheme who would have been denied their right to use that bay to assist them in their day-to-day activities, which they have a right to do.Tony O’Reilly from the North West Forum of People with Disabilities
A PSNI spokesperson said the PSNI “expects its staff to behave in a professional manner at all times”.
“Police vehicle exemptions for restricted parking areas are only in place for officers on official police business and/or emergency calls. If a member of the public has concerns about police vehicles in restricted parking areas they should contact their nearest station in the first instance so that enquiries can be progressed immediately to determine the reason for the vehicle being parked in the area and the identity of the officers. Furthermore, if anyone is unhappy with police actions the office of the Police Ombudsman can also be contacted,” said a PSNI spokesperson.
However, Tony O’Reilly from the North West Forum of People with Disabilities said he was “more offended by the PSNI response than I am by the fact they were in breach of the Blue badge Scheme”.
“The Northwest Forum is appalled, not just at the infraction of parking in the accessible parking bay, therefore disallowing members of the Blue Badge Scheme from using the bay to assist them in their day-to-day activities, but also at the PSNI response saying it’s simply about restricted car parking and ignoring the rights of disabled people to have access to the courthouse and access to justice, or anywhere they may need to go. It is absolutely appalling. The PSNI response, not just the infraction itself, lacks total regard for the rights of disabled people and members of the Blue Badge Scheme,” said Mr O’Reilly.
“The Northwest Forum would demand that the PSNI apologise to the members of the Blue Badge Scheme who would have been denied their right to use that bay to assist them in their day-to-day activities, which they have a right to do,” said Mr O’Reilly.
Mr O’Reilly said the action of police in Limavady on Wednesday has made it difficult for organisations trying to raise awareness and implement the Blue Badge Scheme. He also said it was “disappointing” given the Northwest Forum has worked with the PSNI over a two-year period on the issue of disability awareness and he said “they should know better”.
“There is no excuse,” said Mr. O’Reilly. “I think they are giving a liberal interpretation to what’s called ‘restricted parking’. Are they saying they are above the law? It’s absolutely shameful and completely unacceptable. I’m actually more offended by the PSNI response than I am by the fact they were in breach of the Blue badge Scheme. Their response, the casual nature of it, is unacceptable in this day and age.”
Sinn Fein councillor Brenda Chivers, a member of the Causeway Policing & Community Safety Partnership, said the actions of the police officers on this occasion “are not acceptable”.
“Police officers are not above the law, and the police officers who did this should be reprimanded. I will certainly be asking questions at the next PCSP meeting. Given the limited number of disabled parking bays on Main Street the officers should have been more mindful,” said Colr. Chivers.