REVEALING THE TRUTH ABOUT THE POLICING OF E-SCOOTERS IN THE UK
Written by Ed Wiles, Scootered Founder
After the tragic death of YouTuber Emily Hartridge, when she collided with a lorry while riding an e-scooter in London in July 2019 (at a roundabout where a cyclist has also been killed), the government announced a crackdown on e-scooters. You would hope the police have better things to do, but just how many e-scooter riders have found themselves at the wrong end of the law? To find out, I made two FOI requests to all UK police forces for data on fines given and seizures made for riding e-scooters. The first was made in August 2019 to cover the month after the crackdown and the second in January 2020 to cover the whole of 2019. The table is being updated.
What is an e-Scooter?
It is worth defining "e-scooters" here as there remains some confusion. E-scooters (or electric scooters) are those such as the Xiaomi 1S and hired by the likes of Lime and Bird. Of course, much of the confusion stems from mopeds also being called scooters - and were a moped battery powered it would be reasonable to call it an "electric scooter".
Of those to respond, only the two London police forces seized more than one e-scooter in the whole of 2019. The Metropolitan Police seized 54 e-scooters in 2019 (twenty-five of them in the two weeks after Ms Hartridge's death). The number of e-scooters confiscated from September has averaged less than one a week (please see the second table below, which shows confiscations per month by the Met Police). City of London Police confiscated 12 electric scooters in 2019. An estimated one million people work in the City, and, with only one confiscation in December 2019, one could infer that both London police forces have now refocused their attention on other "offenses". The London police forces also verbally warned more riders (most police forces do not record these), suggesting riders who had scooters confiscated were doing something aggravating to warrant it. The only other forces to have taken recorded action - by confiscating one e-scooter each - were Essex and (possibly) Norfolk. Read more about the law on e-scooters.
Fines and Confiscations by Each Police Force
|Avon & Somerset||UNAVAILABLE||UNAVAILABLE||UNAVAILABLE||UNAVAILABLE|
|City of London Police||0||1||0||12|
|Devon & Cornwall Police||0||0||0||0|
|Metropolitan Police Service||UNAVAILABLE||25||UNAVAILABLE||54|
|Norfolk Constabulary||0||1 *||0||1 *|
|North Wales Police||UNAVAILABLE||0||UNAVAILABLE||0|
|South Wales Police||0||0||0||0|
|West Mercia Police||UNAVAILABLE||0|
|West Midlands Police||0||0||0||0|
|West Yorkshire Police **||0||UNAVAILABLE|
* Norfolk reported an "adapted child's scooter" being seized for not having insurance. I have to assume they mean an e-scooter.
** West Yorkshire Police recorded two seizures of "electric scooters" but closer inspection revealed one was in fact an electric bicycle with its pedals missing, meaning that neither of the reported "electric scooter" seizures could be considered reliable.
Confiscations By Metropolitan Police Per Month (see results for 2020)
| Month (2019)
Recovering Your Electric Scooter
Having your e-scooter "seized" sounds catastrophic, but what the London police forces are failing to mention in their publicity is that you can simply retrieve your e-scooter - or "motor vehicle" - from one of their vehicle recovery units (in Charlton or Perivale). It costs £150 plus £10 for every day it is there. It is thus probably worth your while retrieving it. And the best way to avoid having your e-scooter confiscated in the first place seems to be to avoid doing anything "aggravating": the Met Police have stated that there would need to be aggravating circumstances for them to confiscate your e-scooter (though I have heard claims to the contrary).