A police force is urging parents to “think seriously” before buying a popular item as a Christmas present this year.
Merseyside Police issued the warning about electric scooters after seeing an increase in them being ridden illegally, the Liverpool Echo reports.
Due to their classification as a motor vehicle under the Road Traffic Act 1988, e-scooters cannot be used on the UK’s roads, one of the last countries in Europe where this is the case.
Motor vehicles are required to have number plates, with users needing to have a driver’s licence, insurance and wear a helmet.
If found to be riding one in public, individuals can face having their scooters seized, a fine, or even points on their driving licence.
But they have gained popularity as an alternative to cycling and using public transport.
Chief Inspector Tony Jones said: “We understand e-scooters may appeal to many people for various reasons, whether it’s to travel to work, to purchase as a gift for someone or to enjoy as a fun activity, but we must stress the fact that to use them in public is illegal and can present a safety risk to yourself and others.
“Recently, we have seen a rise in incidents involving electric scooters, including a minor injury collision with a car and I want to make it clear that these scooters are not toys, and have the potential to cause serious injury or even worse.”
In October, MPs said e-scooters could be legalised in the UK within the next 18 months – provided they can be kept off pavements,
A consultation by Parliament’s transport committee found e-scooters could be an effective way to cut car journeys and clean up the air.
But it feared they could be dangerous to pedestrians if the vehicles – which travel at speeds of more than 15mph – were used on pavements.
The committee heard evidence that local authorities would need extra funding to enforce any new safety restrictions introduced to govern e-scooters.
Research by operator Lime found that 8% of trips had replaced car or taxi journeys across Paris, Lyon and Marseille, while this rose to 21% in Lisbon.
But in France 44% of users said they would have walked their trip if e-scooters had not been available, although only 6% said they were walking less overall since they were introduced.
In 2018, Chinese dockless bike rental firm Mobike pulled out of Manchester due to the volume of vehicles stolen, vandalised or dumped.
Bicycles were spotted thrown in waterways, set on fire or left hanging from railings, while others had locks smashed to enable people to keep them.