Remember the furore back in April 2013 when chancellor George Osborne was spotted parking in a disabled bay? It's amazing how quickly people forget things like that. What a shameful thing for anyone to do, let alone a senior politician with control over benefits and disability issues.
However, having seen a similar blatant misuse of a disabled bay in London yesterday I thought I'd pass on a simple, low-cost, high impact method for reducing this kind of outrageously uncaring and ignorant behaviour.
The secret is to give the victim a face. Like most offenders the bad guys don't generally want their victims personalised; that makes the crime too complicated and emotive. Guilt will kick in. Domestic burglars don't want to meet you so they wait until your house is empty, for example. With no victim immediately apparent the crime feels victimless. So what use is signage like this?
It's almost of no use at all. Is the victim apparent? Not at all. There's just the sandard abstract representation of a wheelchair user and it's not going to engage the guilt of the potential offender.
So, give them something to feel guilty about - put a face to the victim like this:
The effects can be extraordinary.
In behavioural expert Dan Pink's excellent 2013 TV series Crowd Control (watch the clip at the top of this shedpost or on YouTube here along with other excellent clips from the series) he selected a parking area where people regularly offended and set up the new signange. After a month of observation not one person had illegally parked in a disabled bay.
So why doesn't everyone use this technique? It's so simple and so effective. Come on councils and supermarkets - do your bit!
P.s. Some people have decided that they can't wait for car park owners to get their act together and have taken direct action. One such example involved having stickers made up that were posted on offenders' cars. I wouldn't necessarily advocate that and I don't condone criminal damage. But the naughty boy in me secretly giggles. And wonders if they used superglue as a fixative.
P.p.s. When I was a cop it was always productive to hide near disabled parking bays and to spring out and nab people parking illegally. It regularly netted me some good arrests in the form of people with outstanding warrants. After all, it's not a real surprise to discover that someone who is wanted for committing a crime, or who fails to answer summonses, or who fails to pay fines, probably wouldn't be that bothered about inconveniencing a disabled person either.
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