Unlicensed e-scooters’ days are numbered says crime commissioner

The number of e-scooters seized by Essex Police has risen tenfold in the space of a year and their days are “limited”, the county’s crime commissioner has said.

Essex’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Roger Hirst, made the remark as figures show that in 2020 just 38 e-scooters were seized by Essex Police.

However, in 2021 a total of 317 e-scooters were seized.

Privately owned e-scooters are illegal to use, other than on private land.

But rental e-scooter trials in five towns and cities in Essex are being extended for another year to allow for more evidence to be gathered as part of planning for their role in the future of sustainable transport.

Mr Hirst said: “My personal view is I don’t think they will be a thing for very long because they are clearly not safe.

“I don’t know when the pilots are going to be assessed but we certainly have feedback which in terms of kilometres travelled they are pretty dangerous.”

Initially trials were expected to operate until October 31, 2021, but the Department for Transport requested for trials in Basildon, Braintree, Brentwood, Chelmsford and Colchester be extended until November 30 this year to allow for the collection of more evidence of their safety.

The request has been agreed by Essex County Council.

Essex Police has said its aim is to keep everyone safe on roads and footpaths by educating owners and riders of privately-owned e-scooters about the current legislation and, where necessary, take enforcement action especially where there is evidence of anti-social behaviour, other riding offences or wider criminality.

The rider of a privately-owned e-scooter being used in a public area is required to hold a driving licence and insurance, but many people are not aware of this.

By educating riders and encouraging them not to use privately-owned e-scooters in a public area, Essex Police hopes that the number of e-scooters being used illegally, and any perceived anti-social behaviour, will be reduced.

But if riders continue to flout the law they could have their scooters seized and destroyed.

He said: “It is the usual approach.

“Essentially if it is first time we pull over tell them to go home, be reminded of the law.

“It is astonishing how many people don’t know the law. They think just because it is being sold in a bike shop they are legal. They are not.

“If we see them riding without a helmet they are advised to go home as well.

“If it is someone they have seen before they can take them to one side, take it off them and crush it.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter