Don’t buy e-scooters for Xmas, warns Dorset Police commissioner

Families in Swanage and across Purbeck have been advised not to buy electric scooters as Christmas presents or run the risk of having them confiscated by Dorset Police.

Privately owned e-scooters are illegal to ride on public roads or pavements in England and Purbeck Police have already made several seizures in Swanage during 2023 after complaints of reckless behaviour.

E-scooter and police car
Dorset Police

E-scooters are illegal to use on any public land in England, including all roads and pavements

Growing numbers of reports to police

E-scooters are on sale legally from £200 upwards in stores like Argos and Currys and through Amazon and other online retailers, with speeds of up to 10 mph, bluetooth sound systems and flashing lights.

They come with disclaimers that they are only legal to use on private land, but growing numbers of children and adults are using them in public spaces including Swanage, with reports of their antisocial use now regularly being made to police.

Dorset’s Police and Crime Commissioner David Sidwick has spoken out about his concerns over the growing use of e-scooters across the county, which led to 20 reported injuries and 85 vehicles being seized in 2022 – numbers which are expected to more than double in 2023.

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner David Sidwick has concerns about e-scooters

“You can’t use an e-scooter on any public land”

David Sidwick said:

“Privately owned e-scooters are illegal to ride on the roads, yet there is confusion over their use – probably because we see them being used illegally on the streets and people assume that they can just buy one and use it.

“Quite simply, they can’t, and the issue needs urgent attention.

“You cannot buy and use an e-scooter on any public land and that includes roads, pavements, pathways, or walkways – so unless you personally own great swathes of land in Dorset you simply cannot ride these machines legally.

“I take issue with the irresponsible retailers who sell these items, they are quite simply misleading the public.

“My advice this Christmas is don’t buy an e-scooter unless you want it to be seized by the police. It’s as simple as that.”

This e-scooter was seized in Priests Road, Swanage, under the Road Traffic Act

E-scooter seized in Priests Road

Purbeck Police seized an e-scooter at Swanage Carnival in summer 2023 after twice warning the rider that he was acting illegally, and have since reported an upturn both in reported complaints and of seizures.

Most recently, on the night of Friday 10th November 2023, officers on mobile patrol saw an e-scooter being ridden by two adults on Priests Road, Swanage, without any lights.

The riders were stopped and the e-scooter seized under Section 165 of the Road Traffic Act, with the lead rider being issued a traffic offence report for having no insurance.

“Many complaints due to near misses”

A spokesperson for Purbeck Police said:

“Whilst legal to buy, it is still illegal to ride e-scooters on any public road – they can currently only be used on private land with permission of the land owner.

“We receive many complaints from members of the public about e-scooters due to near misses. Please report instances of anti-social behaviour to police and we will do our best to deal with it.”

E-scooters can be hired in certain circumstances under council run schemes, such as Beryl bikes, which offers e-scooters in Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch and is currently running trial schemes to hire bikes in Studland and Wool.

However, the e-scooters used under these schemes are insured, and riders must prove they have a valid driving licence at the point of hire. They can also have their top speed limited to as little as 3 mph in geofenced areas during busy events, such as the Bournemouth Christmas market.


Beryl e-scooters are legal to hire in Poole and elsewhere, and are fully insured

Aim to improve air quality and health

Philip Ellis, CEO at Beryl, said:

“Our aim is to inspire more people to take up sustainable travel options such as e-scooters, ultimately reducing road congestion and improving air quality and public health.

“We pride ourselves on customer service and will continue to work closely with Dorset Police and the Crime Commissioner to ensure that our scheme remains as safe as possible for both users and pedestrians.

“I’d like to remind our customers that they have a responsibility to use our scooters in a safe and legal manner and that failure to do so could lead to prosecution.”

Further information

  • Any incidents of illegal e-scooters being used on roads in Swanage and across Dorset can be reported on the Dorset Police website

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