It is illegal to ride an unregistered mini-motos and similar off-roading vehicles on pavements, in parks and on public highways. Due to increased complaints of misuse, the Respect task force has produced a guide to help inform people how to use these vehicles legally and help prevent anti-social behaviour in the community.
Speaking ahead of a visit to Manchester, the home secretary made it clear that those misusing mini-motos could have them seized and crushed by the police. In order to help police carry out enforcement, the Respect task force is giving£200,000 to 28 areas who are stepping up enforcement activity over the summer.
To coincide with the enforcement campaign all police forces and Crime Disorder Reduction Partnerships will receive a step by step practical guide to help effectively tackle those who misuse mini-motos.
Part of this action is awareness-raising of the anti-social problems these vehicles can cause and the penalties for using mini-motos anywhere except on private land where permission has been granted.
As well as the prospect of having their vehicle crushed, offenders can expect to receive points on their licences, including children not old enough to hold one currently.
If a child is awarded points on a future licence as a result of driving a mini-moto illegally, some insurance companies will refuse to insure them once they have passed their driving test. As a minimum, their insurance premium is likely to be vastly increased.
Home secretary John Reid said:
'Misuse of mini-motos is dangerous and is causing misery in too many of our local communities. We are working with police and local partners to promote safe and sensible use. These vehicles are not toys and I want to see irresponsible drivers stopped and if necessary their bikes crushed.
'I know people are experiencing increasing problems from the menace misused mini-motos. This must stop. It is not acceptable to ride these vehicles on our streets or in parks and the guidance we are giving to police and users is clear - irresponsible use will be punished.'
Misuse of mini-motos is a growing concern across the UK. The Motor Cycle Industry Association estimates that sales of mini-moto type vehicles have increased from 10,000 in 2002 to an estimated 100,000 in 2005, although police believe there could be more in circulation.
Although sometimes incorrectly marketed as 'toys' these vehicles have loud engines and canreach speeds of up to 60mph. Police have received thousands of complaints about them over the last year.
Louise Casey, government co-ordinator for Respect, said:
'Everyone has the right to enjoy living in their communities in peace and safety, without the fear of being mown down or being forced to listen to the screech of these mini bikes.
'The Respect Task Force is leading a summer clampdown on mini-motos to raise awareness of the problems people are facing and the penalties for misuse. These vehicles should be used responsibly and those who wreak havoc with them will face the consequences.
'Parents should also be aware of the penalties their child faces for misuse and think twice before allowing them have one.'
Derek Twigg, Department for Transport minister, said:
'Mini powered vehicles may be fun, but they don't belong on the pavement or - unless they are properly registered, taxed and insured - on the road. They can be dangerous and can cause a nuisance in residential areas so the clarification DfT recently reached with ACPO, that mini-motos should be treated as motor vehicles when on public road, and as such be subject to same legal requirements to be insured and licensed, is really important.
The government wants safe roads and pavements for everyone. This is why we are making efforts to remind people of the need to use these machines safely and sensibly.'
The Respect Action Plan was published in January 2006 and sets out a framework of powers and approaches to promote respect. The Action Plan can be accessed via www.respect.gov.uk
The Respect Action Plan includes far reaching proposals including an effective approach to tackling anti-social behaviour across the country, intervene effectively in the most challenging families who cause the most problems, and supporting parents in parenting better
Notes on mini-moto and other miniature vehicle use can be found on Department for Transport websites at www.dft.gov.uk
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has recently issued a circular giving guidance on the acceptable use of mechanically propelled vehicles on rights of way and off-road in the countryside. This is available online at www.defra.gov.uk
National data about the scale of this problem is not available but to give some indication:
Northumbria police received 3,000 complaints on off-road bike issues in the last year
Manchester has identified it as one of its top five priorities in an anti-social behaviour crackdown
In Reading, 44% of 'It's Your Call' anti-social behaviour reporting line calls related to mini-motos
Medway Basic Command Unit (Kent police) received 4,000 calls relating to the misuse of mini-motos in the last year. They also seized 15 bikes in the 4 days at end of May.
We are working with anti-social behaviour co-ordinators, police and local authorities across the country, to take action against the illegal use of mini-motos and 28 areas around the country have receivedfunding for a targeted enforcement and education campaign. These are: Manchester, Mansfield, Liverpool, Sunderland, Birmingham, Harlow, Southend on Sea, Tendering, Reading, Gloucester, Derby, Coventry, Hodge Hill, Blackburn, Chester, Oldham, Salford, Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne, South Tyneside, Hull, Wakefield, York, Camden, Kent Police, Cheshire Police (Halton), West Cumbria BCU, Newport
The Auto-Cycle Union recognise that the illicit use of mini-motos is causing significant nuisance for individuals and communities across the UK. The growth in ownership and usage is almost totally down to the low purchase price - bringing motorcycling to a new group of individuals. The ACU also believes that legitimate use of mini-motos is a positive, worthwhile and highly beneficial sport, engaged with by many hundreds of children and adults in the UK. www.acu.org.uk or ring 01788 566400 for details.
Prosecutions: driving with no insurance
Coventry Police operate an off-road motorcycle strategy to deal with this problem. In particular, one of their operational command units specifically prosecuted riders for 'driving with no insurance' and seized their bikes. Using this policy, they have managed to seize and crush more than 140 bikes since the summer of 2005. The success has meant roll-out of the policy to the other two operation command units in Coventry.
Using the noise powers
Doncaster MBC have been monitoring the problem of mini-moto nuisance for some time, and during the period 2004/05, they received more than 1,500 complaints regarding motorcycle nuisance. Using the mini-moto powers under the Noise Act 1996, they served 640 noise abatement notices, 45 mini-moto were seized by environmental health officers and a further 100 were seized by South Yorkshire Police. Ten people were prosecuted for noise offences.