London has seen a 700pc increase in collisions between illegal electric scooters, which can travel at up to 70mph, despite attempts to crack down on their use.
The Met Police said there were 32 reported e-scooter accidents in 2018, up from just four a year earlier. To date 268 e-scooters have been seized while 604 people have been given warnings.
The "silent" and "dangerous" vehicles are also being used to commit crimes. Since July, more 290 crimes involving e-scooters have been reported, including robbery, assault and theft.
"Three people have been killed nationally now and it really is my fear, with unqualified people driving unroadworthy vehicles that we’re going to see more deaths and more serious injuries,” said Chief Superintendent Simon Ovens, of the Met’s Road and Transport Policing Command.
Privately owned e-scooters have been surging in popularity during the pandemic, with Halfords reporting a 450pc bump in sales between July and September this year.
Yet despite their increased presence on the capital’s roads, pavements and cycle lanes, e-scooters remain illegal, except when driven on private land or rented as part of a council-endorsed trial. Offenders can be given fines of up to a £300 fine and six points on their driving licence.
Chief Superintendent Ovens said the Met would be stepping up enforcement, even if people were driving sensibly and on the roads.
“We have seized 260 of these e-scooters so far under Operation Hornet and we’ve handed out 604 warnings. I will certainly be looking to see that increase because we want to dissuade people from using them,” he said.
MP Huw Merriman, chair of the Transport Select Committee, told The Telegraph this week that a widespread misconception that e-scooters are legal makes their mis-use difficult to police.
“Therefore, in our view, we’re better off embracing them as a really positive means to travel to reduce congestion,” he said.
“And at the same time get them off the pavement and onto roads where I believe they belong.”
London is not the only place to struggle with unregulated scooter riders.
Leicestershire Police reported four incidents with e-scooters this year, all linked to anti-social behaviour whereas Devon and Cornwall police reported eight e-scooter incidents, ranging from road traffic collisions to a man using his scooter to run over pigeons.