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Imports Surveillance team intercepts thousands of unsafe e-scooters

Suffolk Trading Standards is warning of the dangers of e-scooters following an increase in these being detained or refused entry due to safety concerns.
Published: 22 May 2023

Although e-scooters can be purchased privately, it is illegal for them to be used on public roads, cycle lanes or pavements. But this has not stopped their popularity, or rogue traders trying to capitalise on this by producing substandard versions of the vehicles.

In the past two years, the Imports Surveillance team, based at the Port of Felixstowe, has detained over 13,000 e-scooters and e-bikes which did not meet safety testing standards.

Officers found that batteries and chargers for the vehicles posed a serious risk of fire or electric shock, putting unwitting consumers in danger of being injured or even killed.

A further 9,000 e-scooters were also refused entry into the country following to the involvement of Suffolk Trading Standards after failing to meet the requirements for marking, instructions, and essential safety documentation.

A photo of a black e-scooter out of a box, lying on the floor which has been detained by Suffolk Trading Standards
An unsafe e-scooter that was found and detained by the Imports Surveillance team at Suffolk Trading Standards

Graham Crisp, Head of Suffolk Trading Standards, said:

“Stopping the sale of thousands of unsafe e-scooters is a fantastic achievement for our Imports Surveillance team and is a testament to their tireless work to intercept dangerous goods before these can enter the marketplace, protecting not just Suffolk residents but consumers across the country.

“Of course, people can keep themselves safe by only purchasing e-scooters from a reputable retailer, ensuring the vehicle comes with accompanying safety guidance and looking for the CE or UKCA mark.

“Whilst buying cheaper batteries or battery converter kits for e-scooters and e-bikes can be tempting for those looking to save money, they could end up paying the ultimate price.”

Councillor Andrew Reid, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Public Protection, added:

“Fire services nationally are seeing an increase in incidents caused by e-scooters and e-bikes, with there sadly being a fatality following a fire in London at the beginning of the year believed to have been started by a faulty e-bike battery which burst into flames.

“Care should be taken even when using legitimate batteries and chargers; batteries should be allowed time to cool down before being charged and chargers should be unplugged immediately after use to help reduce the risk of fire.

“E-scooter and e-bike users should also avoid charging the vehicles in residential buildings overnight as this is when the majority of fires have happened due to people being asleep and unaware of chargers starting to overheat before igniting.”

To help further combat the problem of dangerous e-scooters, the Imports Surveillance team has produced guidance for importers, which is also available in simplified Chinese in recognition that most product consignments entering the UK originate from China.

Anyone who suspects they may have purchased a dangerous e-scooter or e-bike should stop using it immediately and contact Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133.