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3,637 e-scooters seized in London this year sparks police warning to retailers this Christmas

Updated: Dec 2, 2021

Image credit : Metropolitan Police

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Will Norman, are calling for e-scooter retailers to be responsible in the selling of devices in the run-up to Christmas, when it is anticipated that sales will likely increase.

The MPS are working closely with Transport for London (TfL) and City Hall to ensure that customers are aware of the risks associated with illegal use of privately owned e-scooters on public land.

The Met has so far seized a total of 3,637 privately owned e-scooters this year, and say they will continue to respond to the large scale illegal use in order to keep road users and pedestrians safe.

As with all areas of policing, each offence will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and where appropriate, officers will always seek to engage, explain and encourage anyone found using a private e-scooter on public land to stop and remove it, a spokesperson for The Met has explained.

However, if the rider is putting the public in danger, committing other offences, or is a repeat offender, officers will seek to enforce the law - including the possibility of seizure, disposal, and prosecution leading to fines and points on their licence.

As part of the combined effort to educate Londoners, the MPS and TfL have written to e-scooter retailers in London reminding them of existing legislation and how they may be putting their customers at risk of enforcement action.

The riding of privately owned e-scooters on London’s roads and pavements remains illegal and riders risk fines, points on their licence, and e-scooter seizures if they continue to use them on public road networks.

In June 2021, an e-scooter rental trial was launched by Transport for London (TfL) in six London locations. New boroughs continue to sign up to the trial, with City of London, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, Lambeth, Richmond, Southward, Tower Hamlets (inc. Canary Wharf), Westminster and Camden currently involved.

There are currently 3,585 rental e-scooters on the roads as part of this trial. These rental devices have a number of safety features including always-on lights, GPS controlled parking and no-go zones - meaning they can only be parked in specified locations and cannot be ridden in certain areas and have a unique identification number on every vehicle. The safety standards for the London trial include:

  • Users to be 18+ and must hold a provisional or full driving licence

  • A lower maximum speed of 12.5mph, compared to the 15.5mph set nationally

  • Lights at the front and the rear of the vehicles that are always on throughout any rental

  • Larger wheels at least 12 inches in diameter, meaning they can navigate road surfaces more easily

  • Vehicles to automatically come to safe stop in a 'no go' area, and safely reduce speed to 8mph in 'go slow' areas.

Any e-scooter outside of this scheme cannot legally be used on any public space or road/footpath, despite being legal to purchase and sell.

Commander Kyle Gordon, in charge of Roads Policing, said: “We know that some people may be unfamiliar with the rules around e-scooters and this is something we are working hard with partners to address.

“It is really unhelpful that retailers, fully aware of the risks they are creating for the public, continue to profit from selling machines illegal for use on public roads without sufficient explanation and guidance.

“This is leaving many with expensive seizures, fines and points on their licence. I am calling on retailers not to exploit their customers in the run-up to Christmas simply to make a profit.

“Working alongside colleagues from TfL and the Mayor’s Office, our priority is to keep our roads and public spaces safe, and to engage and educate riders and the wider public on the rules of privately owned e-scooter devices.

“Private devices have, on occasion, proven to be highly dangerous; and we have been called to help many people who have been involved in collisions and ended up seriously hurting themselves or others.

“Teams from our Roads and Transport Policing Command will continue to work hard in the run-up to Christmas and in the New Year to educate e-scooter riders and where necessary and proportionate, take action.

“We are asking retailers and the public alike to remain alert to the rules in order to keep themselves, and others safe throughout the festive period.”

Will Norman, Mayor of London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, said: “E-scooters have been on our streets for a while now with a woeful lack of regulation, and we know they’re not going away. That’s why we are running a rental e-scooter trial in London with much safer, legal rental e-scooters, to take learning from and to see what part e-scooters can play in London transport as we recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

"We know that many people are trying to follow the rules and so it’s important that those using private e-scooters on public land are first engaged with, to make sure they understand what is and is not allowed on the streets and how they can avoid putting anyone else in danger. However, private e-scooters can be extremely dangerous, and anyone deliberately misusing them will feel the full force of enforcement action.

"It’s also really important that retailers play their part, which is why we have written to them again, urging them to be responsible when selling e-scooters, particularly in the run-up to Christmas when we know sales will increase. We need everyone – retailers, e-scooter users and the general public – to help us make sure that dangerous, illegal e-scooters are not being ridden around London’s streets.

"TfL, London Councils and participating boroughs have actively engaged with people with accessibility needs throughout the development of the trial and will continue to do so as the trial continues, including with TfL's Independent Disability Advisory Group. This includes proactively engaging with the blind and partially sighted community and encouraging operators to work with the community to find an appropriate sound for rental e-scooters to alert people to their presence on the street."


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