Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary this week launched the somewhat Ronseally-named Operation Crush. This will see the destruction of e-scooters and electric motorbikes which have been used to commit crimes.
Hampshire Police says it has seen a steady increase in the popularity of what it labels ‘privately-owned, powered, two-wheel vehicles’ (P2WVs) such as e-scooters and off-road electric motorcycles in recent times.
While privately-owned e-scooters are set to be legalised, they aren't legal yet and new legislation has been repeatedly pushed back.
This bizarre legislative limbo recently resulted in the Government issuing guidance on how to buy the vehicles, even though only rental e-scooters that are part of official trials can legally be used on UK roads.
Hampshire Police emphasised that while their overall policy remained to educate first, Operation Crush would target those illegally using the vehicles to commit crimes; those persistently involved in anti-social behaviour; and those putting themselves or other road users at risk of injury.
Explaining the reasoning, Inspector Andy Tester said that due to the challenges of stopping and identifying riders, e-scooters and electric motorbikes were becoming “really popular” with those committing a variety of crimes.
“While we will always try and engage with people first and educate them about the laws around these vehicles, unfortunately not everyone is willing to listen to us and [some] refuse to heed our warnings,” he said.
“So, we realised we needed to deploy tougher tactics for those persistent offenders and looked at how we can use existing legislation to offer more of a deterrence.
“This means that whenever our officers deal with a crime involving e-scooters and other P2WVs, they will have another option to consider and where proportionate, this could end up with a disposal notice being served and the vehicle being crushed.”
Tester added: "We know that the crushing of these vehicles will disrupt criminal activity because they will need to spend more money to buy replacement vehicles. Some of the electric motorcycles used by criminals can cost several thousands of pounds, so this will have a significant impact on their operations. The police only have to be lucky once, they have to be lucky every time to not be caught.”