Tesco has launched a clampdown on motorists who steal parking spaces intended for its disabled customers.

Following “warmly welcomed trials” that hit non-disabled occupants with hefty fines, the retailer now has plans to extend the blitz nationwide. It is also looking at extending the clampdown to spaces reserved for parents with children.

The supermarket giant’s trial at more than 80 stores involved using specially adapted handheld devices that link to the DVLA database. It worked with enforcement company Horizon initially, but The Grocer understands it is now looking at rolling out its own system across the country.

To date, the retailer has been using 20 Samsung mobile phones fitted with a special app and it wants to develop technology further to enable store staff to have a similar app on their personal devices.

Cat Parkinson, who helped develop the scheme as Tesco car park operations executive, said it made parking at Tesco “fairer for everyone”. “We want to change attitudes towards the misuse of disabled bays by highlighting the importance of disabled bays being used properly.

“We take this issue seriously and ask that customers display a blue badge if they’re parking in a disabled bay. We’ll continue to look at ways to prevent misuse of these essential spaces for our disabled customers. Disabled parking is an important part of the customer experience that is sometimes overlooked.”

Operations manager Chris Preece said the scheme had proved a “revelation” at stores where it had been trialled, such as Taunton High Street.

“As the only free car park in the town centre, protecting our disabled bays has been a constant battle.

“The trial is an instant success. In fact, just having the new signage in our car park made an immediate impact. We’ve received nothing but positive feedback from our customers in Taunton. Similar praise has come from customers across our other stores.”

Tesco has won the support of former British paratrooper Jordan Beecher, a customer at its Finchley store, who lost his leg in an IED attack in Afghanistan.

“I’m delighted to hear that Tesco are doing something to raise awareness of the importance of disabled parking bays. This will definitely support others in a similar position,” he said.