New crackdown launched on mini-motos

The government has today pledged £200,000 to help local authorities crack down on the use of mini-motorbikes this summer.

Home secretary John Reid said the bikes, which are marketed as toys but can travel at up to 60 miles per hour, were “causing misery in too many of our local communities”.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) welcomed the funding, saying there had been six deaths involving mini-motos in the past two years, four of which were children.

However, the Conservatives expressed concern that the announcement was simply an attempt to grab the headlines in what is now the height of the media ‘silly season’.

It is illegal to drive mini-motos on pavements or roads but police have reported thousands of complaints about them in the past year. The number of vehicles sold in the UK has increased ten-fold since 2002, and they can now be bought for as little as £200 online.

Serious concerns were raised last year after a four-year-old boy was killed in west Belfast when the mini-moto he was sitting on the front of collided with a car.

Today’s funding will be given to authorities in 28 ‘hot-spot’ areas and will be issued alongside new guidance on how to tackle misuse. This will include making it clear to young people that they face having their mini-moto crushed if they use it illegally.

Offenders can also expect to receive points on their driving licences, even if they are children who are not currently old enough to hold one.

“These vehicles are not toys and I want to see irresponsible drivers stopped and if necessary their bikes crushed,” Mr Reid said. “I know people are experiencing increasing problems from the menace of misused mini-motos. This must stop.

“It is not acceptable to ride these vehicles on our streets or parks and the guidance we are giving to police and users is clear – irresponsible use will be punished.”

RoSPA head of leisure safety Peter Cornall welcomed today’s announcement as a “good step”, but said further measures were needed to control the use of the vehicles.

He suggested councils consider setting up safe riding places for mini-motos, as has been provided for skateboarding and BMX riding.

“We also need to ensure that responsible selling occurs in the future so that, along with the bikes, buyers are encouraged to purchase the necessary safety equipment, such as motorbike crash helmets,” he added.

Today’s announcement was made by the government’s respect task force, which is charged with tackling anti-social behaviour on Britain’s streets, but shadow home secretary David Davis warned it must be followed through with effective action.

“The Home Office should be aware that the public demand effective and sustained action against anti-social behaviour, not a series of announcements fed out over the summer whose purpose is to simply grab headlines and then be forgotten about,” he said.