by Alice Barker, courier in Edinburgh
Last week, it was reported that Deliveroo are launching a training scheme for couriers who will ‘keep an eye out for crimes‘ including street harassment, domestic abuse, modern slavery and human trafficking, county lines and drug dealing.
However well-intentioned the initial idea is (reportedly put forward by a courier who is part of Neighbourhood Watch), we think the proposal at best is another PR stunt from the firm, and at worst may even do lasting harm – to both riders and the community. Here’s why:
- Reporting crime to the police isn’t always the best or safest option for many groups, particularly womxn or those from BME backgrounds. This is due to a number of reasons, including a culture of misogyny and racism from within the police force. Especially in incidents of domestic violence, calling the police can lead to retribution by the abuser. Many also do not feel like their case will be taken seriously or will lead to prosecution.
- Being able to assess a potential criminal situation is a complex, often sensitive task. A short online course is nowhere near adequate training for doing this. Bearing in mind that this job is inherently stressful and demanding, being able to make a quick but hugely consequential judgment call is clearly not an ideal scenario.
- Creates a potentially unsafe and divisive perception of couriers in the community. Couriers who complete the training will be given Neighbourhood Watch branded delivery bags, making them clearly identifiable. This is on top of an already challenging environment, with the IWGB union recently finding that more than eight out of 10 couriers felt unsafe at work and had experienced either verbal or physical assault.
- Takes attention away from real problems, including Deliveroo’s own failure to look after couriers. Speaking on behalf of the Couriers and Logistics Branch of the IWGB, Ahmed Hafezi explains: “Time and time again couriers have reported the inadequacy of Deliveroo’s process for supporting workers who’ve been assaulted on the job. “Often, when couriers report incidents to Deliveroo and other courier companies, the first question is about the welfare of the package, not the human being delivering it.”
- Lastly, more policing isn’t helpful nor the answer to addressing problems in society. Increasing the presence of police doesn’t lead to a reduction in crime. Instead, solutions which lead to creating meaningful changes needed to improve community and workplace safety are complex and multi-faceted. Indeed, some have even suggested that ‘policing less, rather than more, could reduce crime’.