Crushing end unveiled for mini-moto nuisance

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The Independent Online

The Home Secretary warned mini-motorbike riders today that they face having their machines confiscated and crushed as he launched a nationwide crackdown.

John Reid said police receive thousands of complaints from residents across the country suffering from the nuisance and noise of mini-moto riders.

He was visiting Wythenshawe, Manchester, to see bikes confiscated by police scooped up by crane and dumped in a crushing machine.

The Home Office is funding a £200,000 crackdown this summer in 28 "hotspot" areas, including Manchester.

After speaking to local residents, Mr Reid said: "People have had quite enough of this, we know from thousands of calls police have received.

"People are not going to tolerate this any more. There are parents who ought to know better.

"At worst, these bikes can be a death trap for children and, at best, they're not only illegal but a nuisance to neighbours.

"There are a lot of parents who still don't know it is illegal and think it is just a bit of fun. These bikes are not a bit of fun - they are a danger to the local community and to the young people driving them."

The Home Office published step-by-step practical guides for residents, local police and the courts today, giving clear advice on how communities can deal with the problem.

An online advertising campaign linked to mini-moto websites will also warn riders about their anti-social behaviour and the consequences.

In Greater Manchester alone, police received 26,000 complaints in the last 14 months.

Chief Inspector Haydn Roberts, of Greater Manchester Police, said his officers were now confiscating 20 mini-motorbikes a week and there had been six deaths in the last 12 months of people using the bikes.

He added: "I talked to some residents who break down in tears because day in and day out there is this constant drone and their kids can't play outside in the street because of these bike riders."

Anyone using these bikes on streets and playing fields can be fined and have their machines crushed as well as getting points on their licence - even if they are too young to have one yet.

It is illegal to ride them in any public place and they should only be used on private land.

The Motorcycle Industry Association estimate sales of mini-moto-type vehicles have increased from 10,000 in 2002 to an estimated 100,000 in 2005.

Although marketed as toys, the vehicles have loud engines and can reach speeds of up to 60mph.