Crowds turned out in support of the protest in Hackney, London, yesterday which saw couriers call on the Met police to rethink their aggressive overpolicing strategy.
The event took place in the wake of a confrontation on May 14th which saw police run out of Dalston by local people after they started checking couriers’ immigration status saying they were cracking down on “moped-related crime.” The incident received national coverage after police called in more than 150 officers who went in mob handed, detaining and attacking people in the street.
Tensions have been heightened for couriers in major cities across Britain over the last two years as the rapid appification of food delivery has driven a huge rise in the number of precariously-employed couriers driving for firms like Uber Eats and Deliveroo. With few on-street facilities or waiting spots, drivers are often left trying to stay out of the way as best they can between jobs, where they are then accused of loitering.
Various councils in London, including Hackney, have not only failed to provide safe waiting spaces, but also to do enough to deter the Met from running punitive crackdowns, according to couriers. Drivers had previously protested over exactly the same issue in January, before being targeted again just days later.
One Courier said ahead of the protest:
“I am afraid to go to work because I am treated like a criminal. When we are victims of crime, such as vehicle theft or workplace violence, the police ignore us. But when we are trying to earn an honest living, we are harassed just for picking up orders and doing our jobs. It is very scary seeing the recent police violence towards riders and members of the public standing up for our rights. As key workers, we need the police to protect us, not to victimise us.”