Editor’s comment: Policy of no comment has no place

Courier riders are alerting each other to the attacks in a WhatsApp group.

Courier riders are alerting each other to the attacks in a WhatsApp group. - Credit: Archant

Rush hour in St Paul’s Road. You can hardly move for couriers on mopeds picking up takeaways and preparing to zip them across Islington.

I’ll admit I’m often less than pleased to see them when they pull in the wrong way against the traffic, perform perilous U-turns or jump lanes without looking.

But their presence shows how much Islington’s restaurants have come to rely on firms like Deliveroo as a means of doing business. It isn’t just St Paul’s Road: the turquoise uniforms and boxes are ubiquitous in Essex Road and Upper Street and, no doubt, across the rest of London.

The rights of those who make up the “gig economy” have been a hot topic this month thanks to a national debate. Two weeks ago, as that debate raged, couriers told our sister paper the Hackney Gazette they were being targeted for their vehicles, and that they feared being attacked if they ventured into parts of Hackney after dark. Deliveroo’s reaction? Drivers say it simply kicked them off the books for refusing to go to certain places after dark.

Regrettably, neither Deliveroo nor the police thought it necessary to comment on any of their claims – about a crimewave or about their personal safety.

A little more than a week later, acid was thrown in the faces of five moped riders during robberies across Islington and Hackney. One victim was left with life-changing injuries, police said. At least two are believed to have been Deliveroo drivers. A third Deliveroo worker is believed to have been attacked the same evening between Green Lanes and Finsbury Park.

Responsibility for these vicious attacks lies with the attacker(s). But Deliveroo has a responsibility to keep its drivers safe, too. And as its neighbours and customers we don’t know what action, if any, it has taken to support them. It simply isn’t good enough.

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