REVEALING THE TRUTH ABOUT THE POLICING OF E-SCOOTERS IN THE UK
Written by Ed Wiles, Scootered Founder
The UK government's approach to electric scooter has been a bit of a mess, but mostly ignored due to the Covid pandemic, war in Ukraine and any number of other (usually more important) things. In 2019 and 2020 they accounced crackdowns but only the Met Police were really taking any action. Also in 2020, hire schemes began trialling in various UK cities before spreading across the country. The problem remains (as of August 2022) that e-scooters are classified as motor vehicles and, as they are not taxable, are not legal to ride on public roads. Read more about the law on e-scooters. To see if police forces are implementing the law, I have been making FOI requests to UK police forces for data on e-scooter seizures and fines, and include the results below.
The results below show that many more police forces have been taking action against e-scooters recently, though forces in and around London still take the most action. Although the Met Police announced they would stop routinely seizing scooters in November 2021, they had gone a bit crazy prior to this. Worryingly, many forces struggle (or do not bother) to differentiate between seizures for contravening the Road Traffic Act and seizures for other reasons (eg if the scooter was stolen or used in a crime) so the results tend to be an overestimate. For instance, West Yorkshire Police were only able to confirm three e-scooters were seized for contravening Road Traffic Act (their system is a mess, which may not surprise their populace), while Bedfordshire explained that they only seize e-scooters when there are "aggravating circumstances". Another caveat is that a police force can give a different answer to the same FOI request.
Fines and Confiscations by Each Police Force
|Avon & Somerset||UNAVAIL.||1||UNAVAIL.||4||UNAVAIL.||21|
|City of London Police||0||12||0||2||0||65|
|Devon & Cornwall Police||0||0||0||4||0||82|
|Humberside Police||UNAVAIL.||0||UNAVAIL.||10||2||25 *|
|Metropolitan Police Service||UNAVAIL.||54||UNAVAIL.||284||UNAVAIL.||3987|
|Norfolk Constabulary||UNAVAIL.||1 **||UNAVAIL.||12||21||181|
|North Wales Police||UNAVAIL.||0||UNAVAIL.||0||UNAVAIL.||12|
|South Wales Police||0||0|
|West Mercia Police||0||0||0||4|
|West Midlands Police||UNAVAIL.||0||UNAVAIL.||0|
|West Yorkshire Police||UNAVAIL.||0||UNAVAIL.||20||UNAVAIL.||3 ***|
* Humberside warn some seizures may relate to mobility scooters. ** Norfolk reported an "adapted child's scooter" being seized for not having insurance. I include this as an e-scooter. *** More reported but only three recorded for contravening Road Traffic Act, meaning others could have been seized in connection with robberies etc.
Recovering Your Electric Scooter
Police forces should be taking scooters seized under laws regarding "motor vehicles" to their vehicle recovery units (eg Charlton or Perivale in London), where owners can retrieve their scooters for a fee (the Met charges £150 plus £10 for every day). However, I have heard that police forces are failing to inform owners of their rights and/or refusing to release scooters. I believe this to be illegal: unlike a car, an e-scooter can be carried away and the police would thus seem to have no legal right to refuse returning it to the owner.
Confiscations By Metropolitan Police Per Month in 2021 (results since 2019)
| Month (2021)