Parents are being urged to think twice before buying a mini-moto or quad bike for their youngsters this Christmas.
The reminder comes as police and council chiefs join forces to warn of the dangers posed by the bikes which are miniature replicas of full-sized motorbikes.
They are also reminding parents the bikes must be road legal including being registered and taxed, have a MOT certificate.
The rider must be over over the age of 16, insured, have a driving licence and must wear an approved crash helmet.
If the above conditions are not met for use on the road, then these vehicles can only be ridden legally on private land with the permission of the landowner.
They are never permitted to be used on public land, which includes the roads, pavements, playing fields, parks, open spaces or any other place to which the public has access.
Coun Tracey Dixon, lead member for community safety and area management, said: “Mini-moto bikes and quad bikes are not toys. They may be appealing to teenagers, but they are machines and some are capable of reaching very high speeds.
“They are classed as motor vehicles under the law and we strongly recommend people know what the law says about them and find out about the very limited places they can be legally ridden before they consider buying one.
“When used illegally in public places, these vehicles can cause a great deal of disturbance and distress to the local community and damage the environment, not to mention the fact that riders can put the safety of themselves and other members of the people at serious risk.
“It’s extremely important that parents are aware of the dangers and the restrictions, and if they do buy one then it is their responsibility to ensure they are used legally and safely.”
Anyone in breach of these restrictions and found riding them in an anti-social manner could face criminal proceedings and the bikes seized by the police.
Coun Dixon added: “Not only can criminal charges be brought against the rider, if the rider is under 16 then their parents could also be prosecuted. Parents are urged to consider all these points or run the risk of finding themselves on the wrong side of the law.”
Chief Inspector Sarah Pitt said: "Off road bikes cannot be ridden on any land without the owner’s permission and anyone caught doing so will receive a warning letter from police, if they continue to ride the bike on public land the bike will ultimately be seized by police and crushed - not only that, the rider could face being arrested and a criminal record.
"People buying these bikes need to be aware of the law around riding them - if they don't have land they can be ridden on legally then our advice would be don't buy one.
"Disorder caused by motorbikes is not just a nuisance but it potentially poses considerable danger to pedestrians and other road users and officers do a lot of work to prevent this and make sure action is taken against those responsible."
Anyone who sees these bikes being ridden illegally are asked to call South Tyneside Council’s Customer Contact Centre on (0191) 427 7000 and provide as much information as possible.