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Statement on the recent police raids targeted at couriers in Dalston

Mon, May 16, 2022, 2:35 PM

The IWGB condemns the actions and behaviour of the Met Police during the Ashwin Street raid on Saturday evening. After targeting couriers for immigration checks under the pretence of checking insurance documents, video footage shows police officers indiscriminately attacking members of the public with batons and repeatedly punching one person in the head whilst they are on the ground. It is our legal right to protest and to show solidarity with the most marginalised members of society when they are targeted, and the violent response from the police officers in question was a shocking and disproportionate way of dealing with the situation. We hope that the police officers responsible for the violence on Saturday evening are held to account for their actions and are disciplined appropriately.

This is not the first time we have seen police specifically targeting BAME couriers in this area, and checking their immigration status under the guise of checking insurance or responding to claims of anti-social behaviour and vehicle theft. Ashwin Street is one of the top three most-policed areas in the ward. Harassment from police is an issue of workplace safety and dignity, and just like everybody else, food delivery workers have a right to feel safe whilst doing their jobs.

Sadly, due to working on the road and lacking safe waiting areas, this marginalised workforce is often the target of crimes such as theft, assault and harassment. This unique vulnerability is not acknowledged by companies such as Deliveroo and UberEats, who still lack proper rider support features and safety measures for drivers, and who refuse to state on annual reports when workers have been the victims of physical or verbal attack, or even killed, while at work. Despite this, drivers see little support from the police when reporting crimes such as this, and are instead treated as hostile during inspections and raids.

Thankfully, in large part as a result of the organising the IWGB has been doing in the area, there was a huge show of support from fellow app couriers and members of the public for the courier who was initially arrested due to their immigration status. Through this support and direct action, the detained driver was eventually dearrested. Though the police and local law enforcement cite complaints from local constituents as a reason to target these low-paid precarious workers, the solidarity shown on Saturday demonstrates that the community supports these drivers and their demand to end all forms of harassment.

The events on Saturday highlight the vulnerability of delivery app couriers, key workers who provide a vital service to the public, and confirm the need for genuine organisation and improved safety in this sector. The IWGB has been campaigning in Dalston and has secured better conditions for riders, safer spaces and better treatment from restaurants, and we will continue to fight for the safety and dignity of food delivery couriers across the UK.

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