Law guide: Complaints and disputes

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Vehicle related nuisance

Vehicle related nuisance

Inappropriate use of vehicles on or off-road by gangs or individuals can be noisy, intimidating and dangerous. It is important that the local community is protected from such activity, and a number of interventions can be used. Agreements and warnings can help those involved to understand the impact of the nuisance on their local community. Environmental improvements can stop inappropriate use of vehicles within a residential area. For repeated and persistent dangerous and anti-social driving, vehicle confiscation, anti-social behaviour orders, injunctions and/or prosecution under the law are available.

Dangerous or illegal driving

Inappropriate use of vehicles can be intimidating and dangerous. It is important that your local authority protects your community from such activity.

The police have wide-ranging powers to combat offences related to dangerous or illegal driving:

  • A constable may arrest anyone driving a motor vehicle on a road who fails to stop when requested. An arrest warrant is not required.
  • It is an offence to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle off-road, without authority.
  • A constable can seize a motor vehicle that is being driven without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other road users, if it is causing or likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to members of the public. There are certain restrictions on the use of this power, in general terms, an officer must warn that the continued anti-social use of the vehicle will result in seizure. Certain procedural requirements apply, but as a general rule, a vehicle seized in pursuance of this power is held for a period of 21 days until the owner pays for the costs of removal. Once the 21-day period has expired, the vehicle can be disposed of (sold or destroyed) by the police. It is an offence to fail to stop a vehicle being driven in an anti-social manner. It is not endorsable, i.e. it doesn't carry penalty points and won't be endorsed on your driving licence.

The offender will generally receive three warnings before an application for an ASBO is sought by the authorities. The authorities have several options to deal with anti-social driving including ASBO applications:

  • (In England and Wales) under section 146 (1) of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000, the court may, instead of or in addition to dealing with the offender in any other way, order them to be disqualified for a period which it thinks is appropriate, from holding or obtaining a driving licence.
  • (In England and Wales) Police community support officers can issue penalty notices for disorder.
  • The courts have the power to disqualify from driving, anyone convicted of any offence. This is a very appropriate penalty in cases of vehicle-related nuisance. The Police, Crown Prosecution Service and other agencies have a role in recommending this penalty to the court.
  • (In England and Wales) Dispersal Orders – This is an order which gives police officers in a locality where a Dispersal Order is in force, power to disperse groups of people, where the presence or behaviour of the group in any public place in the relevant locality has resulted in, or is likely to result in, any members of the public being intimidated, harassed, alarmed or distressed. There is a power of arrest for failure to disperse, which is an offence. This is useful where groups of people are engaging in street racing or other undesirable activities.

Agreements and warnings can be used to ensure that those engaged in vehicle-related nuisance appreciate the impact on local residents. Where the perpetrators are young people, it may be possible to construct appropriate diversionary or training activities, such as vehicle maintenance.

Environmental improvements such as bollards, gates and CCTV can stop inappropriate use of vehicles within a residential area. All such schemes should be aligned with a clear message that the anti-social behaviour must be stopped and will be subject to further enforcement action if it continues.

Anti-social behaviour orders or injunctions can be used to stop the behaviour and protect the community. In England and Wales Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) and Community Protection Notices may be used. Kensington and Chelsea has a PSPO in place to prevent revving of engines, driving in convoys, repeated and sudden acceleration, among other actions. In addition, the power to disperse groups can be used in an area where there has been persistent anti-social behaviour, to prevent gangs from meeting to engage in anti-social driving. See the sections on Solutions (England & Wales) and Solutions (Scotland & Northern Ireland).


Vehicles being sold or repaired on the street (England and Wales only)

It is now possible to take action against nuisance caused by individuals repairing or selling vehicles on the street as a business.

Using the street as a car workshop and showroom makes it difficult for local residents to find space to park their own vehicles and go about their daily lives. The nuisance can last for months, looks unsightly and can directly damage the local environment through spilled oil.

s3-5 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 makes it an offence to:

  • Sell 2 or more vehicles on a road within 500 metres of each other
  • Carry out 'restricted works' on a vehicle on the road except for repairs from an accident or breakdown that are carried out within 72 hours of the incident. Restricted works include maintenance, servicing, improvement or dismantling
  • Allow any of the above to take place, if you are a director or owner of a company

If an individual can prove they are not repairing the vehicle as a business and are not giving 'reasonable cause for annoyance' to persons in the vicinity, they are not committing an offence.

A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding level 4 (£2,500) or a fixed penalty notice (FPN) of £100 which can be collected on behalf of the local authority by an authorised officer.

Receipts from FPN's can be used by local authorities for the purposes of their functions under the Refuse Disposal (Amenity Act) 1978.

For more information on parking offences, see our Parking & speeding tickets section.

Abandoned or dangerously parked vehicles

Vehicles which have been discarded or abandoned can create problems for neighbourhoods, ranging from the attraction of crime and undesirable activities, to obstruction of traffic.

For more information, see our section Abandoned vehicles.


The inappropriate use of mini-motos, also known as Go-peds (which include miniature motorcycles and petrol driven scooters) is a growing problem, and incidents that disturb local residents, damage the environment and put the safety of the public at risk, are becoming more frequent. Although marketed as 'toys', mini-motos can reach speeds of up to 60mph and fatalities and serious injuries have resulted from mini-moto accidents.

Where mini-motos can be used

If these vehicles are not registered for the road, they may only be used legally on private land, including parks and forests, and only with the direct permission of the landowner, which in many cases will be the local authority.

Where mini-motos can't be used

  • A public road unless they are licensed, taxed and insured
  • A footpath or cycle route under any circumstances

When these vehicles are used on roads, riders must be licensed, aged 16 or over and wearing an approved (E-marked, kite-marked) crash helmet.

Any child using a mini-moto should be supervised by a responsible adult to ensure its safe use.


  • Mini-motos are classed as motorised vehicles, and when ridden illegally or in a careless or anti-social manner (that is causing or likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress) they may be seized by the police under:
    • In England & Wales, section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002
    • In Northern Ireland, Article 65 of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) 2008
  • In England and Wales, Police and Community Support Officers can also issue a £80 Penalty Notice for Disorder for behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. Note that a crime report is always needed for this offence.
  • Riders using mini-motos and other such vehicles illegally on public roads and footpaths, can also be prosecuted under road traffic legislation, fined and receive points on their licences.

Evidence collected in relation to the misuse of these vehicles, can be used to form part of the package of evidence to tackle anti-social behaviour in the same way as for misuse of any other vehicle.

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