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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 August 2006, 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK
Mini-motorbikes 'will be crushed'
Mini motorbikes being crushed
Misuse of mini motorbikes can lead to confiscation
Mini-motorbike riders who break the law on public land could be fined or see their machines confiscated and crushed, Home Secretary John Reid has warned.

The government has given 200,000 to help enforce laws on "mini-motos" in 28 areas of England and Wales.

Guidance makes clear the bikes - often bought for children - can be used only on private property with permission.

Mr Reid said the bikes were "at best a nuisance, running through to a menace and at worst very, very dangerous".

Mr Reid was in Wythenshawe, Manchester, to see confiscated mini-motorbikes being crushed. The North West in particular has seen rising complaints about improper use.

These vehicles are not toys and I want to see irresponsible drivers stopped
John Reid

"Misuse of mini-motos is dangerous and is causing misery in too many of our local communities," he said.

"These vehicles are not toys and I want to see irresponsible drivers stopped and if necessary their bikes crushed.

"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."

Penalty points

The Motor Cycle Industry Association estimates that sales of mini-moto-type vehicles have risen from 10,000 in 2002 to 100,000 last year.

Mini motorbikes
Mini-motorbikes can legally be used on designated tracks

Mini-motos, which can reach speeds of up to 60mph, are popular with young people but can be ridden in public only if the rider is taxed and insured - and old enough to hold a driving licence in the first place.

The Home Office Respect Task Force's guidance stresses reckless users can receive penalty points on their driving licence. If the offender is a child, points could be placed on a future licence.

"If you decide to buy one of these bikes for your children, make sure you know what you're doing," Louise Casey, the government's Respect co-ordinator, said.

"Make sure you realise they can be illegal. Make sure if they get them it's basic things; crash helmets."

'So noisy'

Numerous concerns have prompted the initiative.

Northumbria alone received 3,000 complaints about off-road bikes last year and in Manchester, the problems has been named among the priorities in an anti-social behaviour crackdown.

Sheila Lomas, 49, from Cheadle, said reckless mini-moto riders raced across the park near her home.

"They are just so noisy and there is no let-up from it," she told BBC News.

"When it's hot we cannot have the windows open because we cannot hear the television."

Jim Battle, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, welcomed the measures, but urged ministers to make registration of mini-motos mandatory.

Government officials say such a scheme could be brought in the future.

But the Conservatives said they feared the campaign may be headline grabbing.

"The public demand effective and sustained action against anti-social behaviour, not a series of announcements fed out over the summer," said Shadow home secretary David Davis.

  • The 28 areas receiving cash to tackle the problem are: Manchester, Mansfield, Liverpool, Sunderland, Birmingham, Harlow, Southend-on-Sea, Tendering, Reading, Gloucester, Derby, Coventry, Hodge Hill, Blackburn, Chester, Oldham, Salford, Gateshead, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, South Tyneside, Hull, Wakefield, York, Camden, Kent, Halton in Cheshire, West Cumbria, Newport.

    The mini-motorbike menace
    02 Aug 06 |  Magazine
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