A new crackdown on yobs who cause misery to communities by illegally riding "mini-moto" scooters was launched today.

The Home Office has issued a guide to owners of the motorised bikes setting out how to use them within the law.

Reckless riders of minimotos - which can have a top speed of 60mph - can have their vehicles confiscated and crushed.

Under the existing law they can also receive a fine, points on their licence or a driving ban.

Even if reckless riders are too young to hold a licence, points can be applied to their name in advance making it more difficult or impossible to become a driver when they turn 17.

It is illegal to ride unregistered mini-motos and similar off-roading vehicles on roads, pavements and in parks.

They can only be used on private land where permission has been granted for them to be ridden.

Home Secretary John Reid said: "Misuse of mini-motos is dangerous and is causing misery in too many of our local communities.

"These vehicles are not toys and I want to see irresponsible drivers stopped and if necessary their bikes crushed."

He added: "I know people are experiencing increasing problems from the menace of misused mini-motos. This must stop.

"It is not acceptable to ride these vehicles on our streets or parks and the guidance we are giving to police and users is clear - irresponsible use will be punished."

The Motor Cycle Industry Association estimated that sales of mini-moto type vehicles have increased from 10,000 in 2002 to 100,000 last year.

Police believe there could be even more of the vehicles in circulation.

The Home Office's "respect task force" has produced a guide explaining how to legally use the vehicles and help prevent anti-social behaviour in the community.

And £200,000 is to be shared between 28 areas of England and Wales, including Erdington in Birmingham, to step up enforcement.

Police will also receive a step-by-step guide on how to tackle illegal riders.