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Antisocial Go-ped Riding

Volume 450: debated on Monday 23 October 2006

12. What action is being taken to reduce the antisocial riding of go-peds and other motorised two-wheel vehicles. (95430)

Tackling antisocial behaviour is among the Government’s highest priorities, and the antisocial use of mini-motorbikes remains a nuisance and a danger to many people. That is why the Government's Respect taskforce has led the way in addressing the misuse of mini-motos and go-peds. We recently published a step-by-step guide for practitioners, and provided additional finance for communities affected by the problem. Those initiatives have helped the police and local authorities to pursue robust enforcement measures such as immediate seizures, destruction, noise abatement notices and antisocial behaviour orders.

I welcome the Home Secretary’s response, but can he tell me whether the summer campaign to seize mini-motorbikes was a success? Despite all the enforcement measures that he has listed, it concerns my constituents in Leek, Biddulph and other areas that the issue of antisocial behaviour is not high enough on the list of police priorities.

My hon. Friend makes a good point. There are powers for the tackling of go-peds and mini-motos, which are a danger and a chronic nuisance to many people not just in her constituency but elsewhere, but she is right to say that enforcement of those powers is patchy throughout the country. That is one of the reasons why we spent some £200,000 over the summer on an information campaign to try to heighten the awareness of practitioners such as local authorities and police forces—as well as that of the public—of the ways of tackling the nuisance that lie in their own hands.

The campaign has been a success in many areas, although it has been used to a limited extent in my hon. Friend’s area. I believe that there has been one seizure and five warnings, which is a relatively small result compared with that in many other areas. However, I hope that the increasing availability of information will encourage local authorities and police to take action against something that is becoming a terrible nuisance for many people.

Three years ago, I spent some time dealing with the tragedy of a youngster who was killed as a result of a collision caused by another youngster on a motorcycle. This weekend I spent some time with a family that had lost a 19-month old youngster as a result of a four-wheeled vehicle that was apparently stolen and driven by other youngsters. I accept that the figures show that the number of such crimes leading to fatalities has, happily, gone down considerably. However, will the Home Secretary review the way in which young people are educated so that they understand that potential fatalities can be caused by that sort of behaviour? The best way is to show them the results, to persuade them that their own younger brothers or sisters, or they themselves, could be the next victims, as opposed to the people who cause the deaths.

The hon. Gentleman makes a very pertinent and important point. While these vehicles can legitimately be used off the road on controlled tracks and areas, when they are used on the roads in a haphazard fashion they are dangerous not only to other people but to the lives and limbs of the young people who are driving them. I was recently in Manchester and saw some examples of what can happen. The unguarded chain on those vehicles, for instance, can be a lethal weapon. And everything sits on top of a plastic fuel container—which is a fireball just waiting to happen if used in the wrong circumstances. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right, which is why we ran the campaign over the summer months to inform local authorities and the police as well as the public about the problem. In Manchester, I believe that there have been about 116 seizures of mini-motors, and many of them were destroyed. I agree that it is important to send out the information, and I can also inform the hon. Gentleman that we will keep the matter under review.