E-Scooter Police Crack-down - Legal Defence Fund

by Kayla Padilla

E-Scooter Police Crack-down - Legal Defence Fund

by Kayla Padilla
Kayla Padilla
Case Owner
Kayla Padilla arrived in the UK five years ago, travelling from her native Canary Islands to finish her studies. Her passion is theatre production and, more recently, electric scooters.
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Kayla Padilla
Case Owner
Kayla Padilla arrived in the UK five years ago, travelling from her native Canary Islands to finish her studies. Her passion is theatre production and, more recently, electric scooters.
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Latest: March 30, 2022

PACTS Report - 'The safety of private e-scooters in the UK' - ESDF response

We are in the process of drafting the ESDF Impact Report regarding current UK Government Policy on private e-scooters.  Part of this process is monitoring the media output on e-scooters and pote…

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My name is Kayla Padilla, I am a 33-year-old service desk manager and have been living in London for five years.  I bought an e-scooter in 2018 after feeling unsafe using public transport late at night after work.

 After having my scooter impounded by the Police, I am being prosecuted for riding my scooter without insurance on a public road.  I face aggregated fines and charges of over £500 plus six penalty points on my driving licence. I have teamed up with a group of other scooter riders to challenge these prosecutions in court. 

We are working with Jonathan Black, partner at BSB Solicitors, and James Gray of 25 Bedford Row to consider mounting a  legal challenge to the current wave of prosecutions.  We are looking to raise £11,000 initially to cover legal costs. Once we achieve this, we will seek more funding to cover court costs and additional legal fees for the judicial review. 

We believe that the current police crack-down is both discriminatory and at odds with environmental policy.  Many e-scooters riders do not feel safe on public transport, especially late at night. Moreover, we believe that there is a potential legal argument that these prosecutions / fixed penalty notices are both unfair and disproportionate.

Through challenging a selection of these prosecutions, we hope to deliver a re-evaluation of the approach to prosecuting riders of e-scooters.  Ultimately we want to see a more suitable regulatory framework introduced to allow us to use e-scooters legally.  

In the interim, we suggest that existing regulations covering the use of bicycles could be used by Police to encourage the safe use of e-scooters.  We believe this would result in a reduction of anti-social behaviour and serious injury linked to e-scooters. 

Our next step will be to consider the viability of and prepare for a judicial review to challenge the legality of the prosecutions.

Please give what you can - your support is extremely important to us and the community of e-scooter riders.  Thank you for taking an interest!

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Update 5

Kayla Padilla

March 30, 2022

PACTS Report - 'The safety of private e-scooters in the UK' - ESDF response

We are in the process of drafting the ESDF Impact Report regarding current UK Government Policy on private e-scooters.  Part of this process is monitoring the media output on e-scooters and potentially responding to content that we feel is inaccurate and damaging. 

PACTS (Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety) is a cross-party research group, registered charity, that has been tasked to advise the Government on micro-mobility policy.  We have been in contact with them since we were disturbed by its interim report into private e-scooters.  PACTS recently published its final report into private e-scooters - please view the report via the link below.

https://www.pacts.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/PACTS-The-safety-of-private-e-scooters-in-the-UK-Final-Report.pdf

The ESDF is now working on a response to this report that we intend to make very public.  We do not agree with the findings of the report as it fails to present an evidential basis for its conclusions.  The image on the title page of the report speaks volumes about the obvious bias within. 

Once we respond, we will let you know!


Update 4

Kayla Padilla

Dec. 6, 2021

ESDF Update 2021 DEC

Firstly, apologies for the extended period between updates.  We held off publishing a statement until we were sure about strategy and next steps.  Following this written update, we are hoping to publish a video update to expand upon themes raised here.

The purpose of the ESDF was to advocate for the community of e-scooter, electric unicycle, ESK8 and e-bike/moped users.  Our original strategy intended to find ways we could use the law to challenge current DfT and Police policy on the use of PLEVs (private lightweight electric vehicles).  We had hoped to find weaknesses in the application of the Road Traffic Act that would potentially provide a defence for riders facing prosecution.

Much of the work that has been conducted so far by BSB Solicitors and 25 Bedford Row Barristers, and all work by the ESDF team, has been on a pro-bono basis.  We have worked to protect the funds raised to give us options once we decided on a path to take.


Conclusions of the research phase

We spent a couple of months looking at relevant statutory acts of parliament to establish whether the current wave of prosecutions was lawful.  We also considered case law to see if there were any precedents that could be of use to us.  During this process, we had many conversations with other groups and individuals who had carried out their own research into this.

Unfortunately, we were unable to find any vulnerabilities in the application of current legislation that would provide us with a viable defence.   Whilst it remains true that the current legislation was never intended for this purpose, current DfT policy instructs the Police and the courts to prosecute riders of private PLEVs under the Road Traffic Act of 1988.  As a rule, the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) will always prosecute road traffic offences because when penalty points are a factor.  If the licence holder is found guilty of the offence, the court is legally obliged to apply penalty points.


Kayla’s Case

We feel it is important to point out that no ESDF funds were deployed defending Kayla or paying fines or costs.  Unfortunately, a small minority of commentators in social media incorrectly assumed that ESDF funds were spent in this way and decided to publish uninformed, inaccurate, and rather hurtful opinions


Once it was clear that there was no viable defence for the charges against Kayla, we decided to attend court rather than accepting the plea bargain offered by the police. This would allow us to use the platform to read out a statement of mitigation. At the very least, it would allow Kayla to explain to the court and put on record her reasons for being on the wrong side of the law. 

The mitigation statement (posted previously) was well received by the court and served to clearly point out the injustice of the charges brought against Kayla.  The Court was persuaded to reduce the fine and costs applied to the minimum acceptable level, from a total of £385 to £100.

This is outcome is significant as it signalled that Stratford Magistrates Court was uncomfortable with the severity of the punishment in this case.  A cornerstone of the ESDF campaign is that people are being disproportionately punished due to the decision to use legislation not fit for purpose.


Recommendations to Riders Facing Prosecution

We would recommend people who are facing prosecution to attend court and read out a similar mitigation statement rather than accepting the offer of a quick settlement from the Police. We believe that many magistrates will be uncomfortable being asked to preside over these cases.  This may lead them to take issue with the policy and advise the DfT to accelerate the process of proper regulation.

This may mean that your guilty verdict could show up on any future criminal records check (DBS check) although BSB Solicitors has pointed out that minor traffic offences are of little consequence for most of us.  You will also incur court costs of up to £85 but there is a chance that the Court might be persuaded to reduce your financial exposure due to your mitigation statement.  Each case is subject to individual circumstances and seeking legal advice may be advisable.


Options Moving Forward 

We now have two clear options available to us.  The first is an attempt to use the law as a vehicle to reveal the injustices of current DfT policy on the use of privately owned PLEVs.  We believe that this would create publicity that would serve to alter public opinion in our favour.  The second option is to use a report format rather than the court system to present the same arguments:

OPT 1

From the outset, we understood that we could consider launching a judicial review (JR) into whether it is appropriate to use the Road Traffic Act 1988 to prosecute riders of private PLEVs, especially e-scooters.  We would argue that the punishments are disproportionate and unfair.  We would provide evidence proving that the policy has disadvantaged poorer demographics and ethnic minorities.

We intended to use the JR process to raise awareness of the injustices of current DfT policy towards the private use of PLEVs.  We believed that, win or lose, it would be newsworthy enough to generate positive coverage in above the line media.

The most obvious drawback is cost.  The direct costs are manageable – approx. £25,000.  However, it would be very likely that the DfT and the Police would petition for security to cover their costs.  This figure would likely exceed £100,000 and when added to our legal fees, would potentially expose the ESDF to approximately £200,000 total costs.  Although it is likely that the JR would expose the inadequacies of current DfT policy and succeed in our aim to publicise the problem, it is highly unlikely that we would simply get a straightforward win.  Only a win would prevent us being exposed to crippling costs.

The other issue with the JR option is that it is combative by nature and likely to be treated with hostility by the DfT, the Police and the courts.  Many of us involved in the campaign are uncomfortable with this approach as it could simply serve to antagonise the very individuals who we need to agree to new regulation.


OPT 2

We are considering using the legal team to assist us in producing an Impact Report on current DfT policy on the private use of PLEVs.  We would use case studies to demonstrate the destructive effect the policy is having in the UK, especially in our major cities and towns.  The report would present research into the environmental effect of policy as well as road safety.  Our intention would be to gain the support of representatives from the legal and enforcement professions, community leaders and members of parliament.

Once the report has been produced, we would employ a broadcast media public relation firm to publicise the findings of the report across all above the line media.  Hopefully, this would trigger a longer term, cohesive public relations effort that would serve to counter the negative public perception problem we are facing in the UK. 



At present, we favour option 2 as we believe that a well-researched, well presented, and publicised impact report serves to target the largest obstacle preventing new regulation for PLEVs.  DfT representatives have informed us that regulation is unlikely unless negative public perception can be addressed and reversed.  A well organised and funded anti-scooter lobby has successfully managed to use the media to associate the use of private PLEVs with unlawful, antisocial, and dangerous behaviour.  We need to counter this with a little bit of reality and truth – we believe that the impact report is the best way to achieve this.

Rather than making enemies within the DfT, the Police and the court system, the report will be intended to assist those who believe, like us, that well-regulated private PLEV use will help move the UK away from an unsustainable transport model.  We believe that we have many supporters, but we need to clear the ground ready for a change of policy.


What Can You Do?

Firstly, we would like to hear from anyone regarding these conclusions and our strategy, especially if you feel we are either missing something or there is a better approach out there.

Secondly, if you have been the victim of the crackdown, we would like to hear from you. Please send a brief email to contact@esdf.co.uk with the following information:

  • Name, Date of Birth, Occupation
  • Location and date of alleged offence
  • Model of PLEV (e-scooter etc) you were riding
  • Description of offence and brief description of what happened
  • What have you been charged with and at what stage is the prosecution at

If we decide to proceed with the impact report, we will need case studies of individuals affected by the policy to support the case for new regulation.  It could be that your livelihood has been compromised since losing your transport.  Or, that you decided to stop using your scooter and now drive instead.  If you feel you have a relevant story, please send us some details!


Update 3

Kayla Padilla

Dec. 6, 2021

Laura 'Kayla' Padilla's Mitigation Statement

Good afternoon.
                
My name is Laura, and I would appreciate it if the court would consider this statement made in mitigation. 
                  
I am a single woman living in shared accommodation in London. I have used electric scooters to commute to work for over three years. Public transport is unreliable and expensive. Some of my work involved keeping unsociable hours and I did not feel safe waiting for night busses after previously being attacked.                   

I consider myself an experienced and responsible road user having passed my CBT and driving test. I know and follow the highway code when riding my e- scooter and take care to ensure I wear protective and high visibility clothing.
               
Previously, road traffic officers have taken a common-sense approach to the use of e-scooters. Providing I used the scooter in accordance with the highway code I was advised that it would not be in the public interest to prosecute.
This advice was given by many serving police officers and we were aware that the CPS was reluctant to prosecute people unless caught riding irresponsibly or dangerously.                  

I appreciate that I do not have third party insurance for my e-scooter, but I should remind the court that it is not possible to obtain this at the present time. I am also confused why third-party insurance is required for e-scooters when it is not required for e-bikes? Also, if the court deems it safe to ride a rental scooter, why is it unsafe for me to ride my own private scooter?                   

Like many low paid workers in London, especially during the pandemic, private e-scooters offer a cost effective, efficient and non-polluting way to travel to and from work. The government appeared to confirm this by approving e- scooter rental schemes. As these schemes are expensive and not in my area, I believed that using my own private e-scooter was sensible and more cost effective than the hire schemes which create their own profit base. I apologise to the court for this transgression and I hope my statement helps the court understand and appreciate the background to this.         

Thank you.                                
Update 2

Kayla Padilla

Sept. 10, 2021

E-Scooter Defence Fund - Update - September

After launching the ESDF in July, we successfully hit our funding target and raised over £11,000 with CrowdJustice. This will pay for the first phase of our legal campaign to challenge the basis of the Police crackdown on private e-scooter riders.

Identifying the Problem:

The Police crackdown has been the catalyst for a considerable amount of media attention on e-scooter use.  Much of this coverage has been subject to negative bias which has been largely unchecked.  Unfortunately, the negative framing of e-scooters in the UK has informed Government decision making.  Off the record, Department for Transport representatives have confirmed that the trials will be extended at least until mid-2022 with no chance of regulatory change until 2023. 

More worryingly, private e-scooter riders are perceived by the DfT to be 'the problem'. The uncomfortable truth is that most law abiding, responsible e-scooter riders have been forced back into cars and other alternatives as they feel unable to risk their driving licences.  However, many people simply do not have access to these alternatives due to working unsociable hours or social economic concerns.  Also, many younger people are disillusioned with what they perceive to be an unjust and discriminatory use of the law.  These groups of people therefore chose to ignore the law, thereby setting a dangerous precedent. 

The Police crackdown has indirectly targeted the following groups:

  • Low paid workers including many key workers
  • The unemployed
  • Shift workers with unsociable hours
  • Ethnic and immigrant minorities who are disproportionately represented in the above categories.
  • Young people
  • Disability groups who use e-scooters as mobility aids

Our conversation with the DfT revealed that the Government will not consider legalising the use of e-scooters until such a time that the public perception problem is solved.  This especially applies to private scooter use.  Therefore, the primary goal of the ESDF and any other pressure group advocating for PLEV regulation, must be to inform and educate the public who have been subjected to a well-funded and organised smear campaign against the introduction of e-scooters and micromobility. In short, we need to start winning the PR war. 

Progress so Far:

Since reaching our funding goal, we have been busy laying the foundations for the ESDF to ensure that it represents all stakeholders. We are hoping to team up with Ridables and other pressure groups to ensure a coupling of effort and consistent messaging. Building a campaign team has also been a priority so we can cover more ground as we enter the second phase.

BSB Solicitors is now working on strategy with us and building a case against the crackdown. We anticipate that this process will take us through September and we hope to present the results of this soon after. Once we are clear on what the likely outcome will be should we proceed through the courts, we will focus the campaign accordingly.

What Can You Do?

If you have been the victim of the crackdown, we would like to hear from you.  Please send a brief email to contact@esdf.co.uk with the following information:

  • Name, Date of Birth, Occupation
  • Location and date of alleged offence
  • Model of PLEV (e-scooter etc) you were riding
  • Description of offence and brief description of what happened
  • What have you been charged with and at what stage is the prosecution at

We are looking to recruit volunteers for the campaign team.  If you have any social media and promotion skills that you believe will be helpful, please get in touch with us!

Update 1

Kayla Padilla

Aug. 10, 2021

Deadline is Friday! We need your help.

It has been an eye-opening campaign and the Police are showing no signs of relenting their pressure on the use of private e-scooters.   We have until Friday lunchtime to make our £11k target.  If we miss this, we are back to square one.


Please help us if you can.  If you are not able to donate personally, please share the page with your friends who may not have seen it.  If you care about this, please spend five minutes posting the link to CrowdJustice as far and wide as possible!


We are pretty close now - let's not blow such a great opportunity to change our streets for the better!

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