Police bosses have pledged to use new powers to combat “dangerous” e-scooters in South Tyneside.
Earlier this year, South Tyneside Council refreshed its Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour issues across the borough.
One aspect of the PSPOs, which can lead to a fixed penalty notice, included a ban on ‘using mechanically propelled vehicles on public land.’
With the new rules coming into force earlier in May 2021, police chiefs have said the powers will be used to tackle the “serious issue” of electric scooters locally.
Acting Neighbourhood Inspector for South Shields, Dave Stobbs, updated councillors on the issue at Tuesday’s (June 1) Riverside Community Area Forum (CAF).
The police officer warned that using an e-scooter in a public place in South Tyneside was illegal and that riders flouting the rules could risk having their vehicles seized.
He explained: “E-scooters are a serious issue at the moment, there is the scheme in Sunderland operated by a private company where people can hire an e-scooter and use that guidance.
“But that does not exist here in South Tyneside and quite simply, they’re illegal to use anywhere in a public place.
“We’re aware that [e-scooters] were the Christmas present of choice this year for a lot of families and we have taken positive action against offenders that we have caught.
“The process involves us seizing the vehicle, because it is classed as a mechanically propelled vehicle, [and] that goes to a yard where it’s held and they then have to pay a fee to get that back.
“The PSPO that has just come into effect specifically covers these vehicles [e-scooters], which allows us to impose a fine on people that are caught riding them.
“It’s about educating people who may not understand fully what the legislation is around them and that’s very much a work in progress.
“But we have the tools now to take [on] matters with regards to these e-scooters. I’m well aware they’re an issue.
“They’re a severe danger to the riders – when we see the manner in which they ride on the road amongst traffic with no road experience and no protective gear – but also to other road users and pedestrians.
“They’re just a danger, they really are.”
During the CAF meeting, councillor Norman Dick said e-scooters had previously been seen in shopping areas and warned “someone was going to get hurt.”
Police bosses explained there were ‘limited tactical options’ available around safely stopping moving e-scooters without causing injury to the rider or other road users.
But they added that identifying the riders involved in illegal activity allowed “positive action” to be taken.
Acting Inspector Stobbs went on to say: “The e-scooter issue is very much about local neighbourhood teams identifying offenders and users.
“You have got everything from young children who are oblivious to grown adults who think [e-scooters] are an effective mode of transport [to use] to ride around the town, not realising they’re illegal.”
For more information about PSPOs in South Tyneside, visit: www.southtyneside.gov.uk/article/35174/Public-Spaces-Protection-Orders