Victimisation and fear of crime in the gig economy

Victimisation and fear of crime in the gig economy

Related Themes: Roads policing, Robbery

The growth of the food delivery gig economy in London has seen a parallel growth in vehicle thefts and other crime and intimidation.  While there is a growing body of research on the gig economy, very little of it takes a criminological look at the gig economy, focusing on victimisation, fear of crime and the response of policing and other public bodies. These issues, and wider problems raised by protests and media reports, point towards a number of key themes that will form the focus of the new Police Foundation research project, taking food delivery moped riders working in the gig economy as its focus:

  • The nature of the gig economy and its relationship to victimisation and fear of crime, including lone and late-night working without a return to base, the need for the worker to provide their own equipment, and considerations about where and when to work, balancing potential profits and other factors.
  • The changing nature of crime in London, in particular the growth of moped-enabled offending.
  • The policing response to moped-enabled crime and the victimisation of food delivery moped riders working in the gig economy.

Depending on access, the research will include:

  • Interviews with food delivery moped riders in the gig economy, working with assistance of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB).
  • An examination of police data and interviews with police officers from local and specialist teams (for example in the Metropolitan Police Service Roads and Transport Policing Command).
  • Interviews with and an exploration of any data held by companies who develop and own the relevant gig economy IT platforms.
  • Interviews with moped manufacturers to consider how crime prevention/target hardening could be implemented.
  • A review of relevant academic publications, grey literature and media reports.

The resulting data will be analysed by the Police Foundation’s researchers who will then develop proposals for policy or operational change that will be discussed with key stakeholders. Our aims are to:

  • Develop new data and evidence-based recommendations that will help food delivery moped riders advocate for improved working conditions.
  • Put new evidence in front of policy makers which we hope will lead to greater protection for workers in this sector.
  • Affect the policies and practices of the Metropolitan Police Service – and other police forces – so they can better serve this group of victims, and potential victims.
  • Influence the practices of the large commercial operators in this sector so that they can provide safer conditions for workers.
  • Contribute to the growing body of academic research about the gig economy with a particularly criminological focus.

How you can get involved

We’d very much like to hear from you if you have an informed view on the issues set out above, especially if you are:

  • A food delivery moped rider working in the gig economy in London.
  • A police officer or analyst who has investigated or otherwise responded to the victimisation of food delivery moped riders and/or moped-enabled crime, including developing policy.
  • A moped manufacturer or retailer.
  • A food business whose products are delivered by gig economy moped riders.
  • A solicitor or barrister who has acted in cases involving the victimisation of food delivery moped riders working in the gig economy, whether for prosecution or defence.
  • An academic or other researcher who has conducted research on issues of relevance to victimisation or fear of crime in the gig economy, especially if it relates to food delivery moped riders or similar workers (eg couriers, minicab drivers).
  • A civil servant, union representative or other policy maker working on developing and influencing policy in relation to the gig economy and/or moped-enabled crime.

You can contact us by emailing or, or by tweeting us @the_police_fdn or @gmhales or with the hashtag #PFgigecon.