A POLICE officer will make a charity donation after being caught parking in a disabled bay.

The marked police van was pictured parked in the clearly marked bay on Crown Street, Darlington, this morning (Thursday, June 12).

Chief Inspector Chris Reeves of Darlington Police said the officer had not realised it was a disabled bay and had parked without checking.

“He was there for police purposes but it wasn’t an emergency and he shouldn’t have parked there," he added.

“He fully admits he was in the wrong and has agreed to pay the equivalent of what a parking fine would have cost to Darlington Association on Disability (DAD).

“The bottom line is he should not have parked there. It was a mistake but that’s no excuse, he should have looked.”

Chairman of DAD, Gordon Pybus, urged people to report wrongful use of disabled bays.

He said: “Police officers should be more responsible but you see this happening regularly up and down the country.

“I hope senior officers take matters like this seriously and do something about it.

“With the pedestrianisation of some of the town centre, disabled bays close to the centre are in high demand.

“If someone is already parked there without a blue badge, they’re taking up a space and it could mean that a disabled person can’t park up and might not be able to get on with their day at all.”

A spokeswoman from Darlington Borough Council said: “Marked police cars are not exempt and if one of our wardens saw a vehicle parked in a bay it should not be in, they would ticket it.

“The penalty would be £70. They could appeal and any reason they give as to why they were parked in that bay would be taken into account. “