‘Don’t let e-scooters ruin our summers – grab them and destroy them’

E-scooters being driven on public roads in Kent should be confiscated and destroyed, said the man in charge of supervising policing in the area.

Electric vehicles are illegal to drive on any land that is not privately owned – except in towns or cities covered by government trials.

Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott are outspoken critics of e-scooters

The conclusion of Kent’s only pilot scheme, in Canterbury, in November last year marked the end of the lawful use of e-scooters on public lands across the county.

But Kent Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Matthew Scott fears people will start seeing the vehicles “effectively decriminalized” as they continue to be driven illegally.

He was challenged on the matter during a meeting of the Kent and Medway Police and Crime Panel on Tuesday.

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“The panel is aware of my views on e-scooters – arrest and destroy them as they are not legal on any public land in Kent right now as we are not conducting trials in Canterbury,” Mr Scott said.

“That would be one simple solution, but my hope is that [riders] handled as well, and it will arrive [Kent Police] to handle.

Kent Police seized 190 e-scooters in the two years to April. Stock image

“I don’t want the perception to increase that they have been effectively decriminalized when in fact they are not safe on the streets, not legal on the streets and should not be on our roads.

“We will continue messaging around that, and I will hold accountable all aspects of this question to ensure our summer is not marred by anti-social vehicles”

Mr Scott was responding to questions from Labor district councilor Shane Mochrie-Cox, who said the e-scooters “were presumed to have been decriminalized for lack of attendance and presumed lack of action”.

Member Graversham added that enforcement against motorists was a “zip code toss-up depending on resources, appropriations and whatever else the commander of a given area could allocate at the time”.

He also highlighted how he and other councilors received correspondence from residents requesting action be taken on the e-scooters, even though the onus lies with Kent Police, and not local authorities.

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Such machines are considered Personal Light Electric Vehicles, so they are treated as motorized vehicles and are subject to the same rules as cars, mopeds and motorcycles.

Former university librarian Sarah Carter, of Canterbury, is among those who believe a “genie has come out of the bottle” for the e-scooter craze.

The 80-year-old was knocked over last summer by a man who was legally driving a vehicle rented from Bird – the company that oversaw the city’s controversial two-year trial.

Sarah Carter suffered a broken bone when she was knocked over by an e-scooter in Canterbury
Picture shows the extent of Sarah Carter’s facial injuries

Mrs Carter suffered a broken wrist, fractured jaw and broken cheekbone from the impact.

Five months later Kent County Council rejected an offer from the Department of Transport to continue the pilot scheme through May 2024.

But e-scooters continue to be seen on city streets, and elsewhere in the county, with Mrs Carter blaming a lack of police patrols.

“Part of me says it has the potential to be a pretty good form of transportation if the infrastructure is in place, but I think there should be a lot more scrutiny of breaches at this point,” he said.

“There are no police around to do anything.

“I understand[scooters] around quite often; You can imagine that my experiences have left me very cautious and actually freaked out quite a lot.

“There are more and more – and we must not forget about electric bicycles either.

“Fast and quiet – I think that’s a recipe for danger.”

Pauline Lilford was seriously injured when she was knocked down by an e-scooter in Canterbury
Joshua Mpia crashed into Pauline Lilford with such force that she was sent flying through the air, breaking her arms and legs from the impact.

Mrs Carter isn’t the only Canterbury resident who was seriously injured in a collision with an e-scooter.

In June 2021, then 19-year-old Joshua Mpia pleaded guilty to dangerous driving after hitting mother of three Pauline Lilford – leaving her with a broken arm and leg – while driving her personal vehicle.

Mpia was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for two years, along with a two-year driving ban, and ordered to perform 100 hours of unpaid work.

Kent Police Chief of Prevention Superintendent Pete Steenhuis said officers were taking “proportionate action” when necessary to deal with e-scooter riders.

However, he said last year the troops did not receive a single report a day on the matter.

“Police officers across the county have been engaging with individuals on the street and at schools to provide advice,” he said.

“If an officer finds the e-scooter being used improperly, they will first try to educate the rider and encourage them to comply with the law.

“This approach has helped educate the public, especially young people, about the dangers of using it.

E-scooters are illegal to ride on public land in Kent. Image: KFRS

“Numbers show that last year we received less than one report a day across the region, with some areas like Sevenoaks receiving only three reports all year.”

“The overall number of reported incidents fell from 355 in 2021 to 205 in 2022.

Supt Steenhuis urged potential riders to familiarize themselves with the law before buying an e-scooter, adding that Kent Police seized 190 vehicles in the two years to April.

“If a rider refuses to follow the advice, or if they are seen to be using the e-scooter in a dangerous or anti-social manner, we will use our powers to impound the vehicle and take further enforcement action if necessary,” he said.

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