Crime experienced by gig economy workers is vastly under-reported

Crime experienced by gig economy moped couriers is far greater than previously recognised and can fuel other forms of criminality, says a new study by the Police Foundation.

The research revealed that although most moped delivery couriers had experienced assault or theft, they were reluctant to report it, instead going to significant lengths to protect themselves, including (in some instances) carrying weapons.

Couriers reported that the police and delivery platforms were unsupportive: they found the police to be unresponsive and they risked serious financial hardship if their accounts were closed by delivery companies while crimes were investigated. Poor recognition of the seriousness of courier crime means moped theft goes unrecognised while continuing to drive other crimes, with stolen mopeds used to commit offences such as drive-by robbery.

With 500,000 couriers now operating in the UK gig economy, the Police Foundation makes 24 recommendations to protect couriers and prevent crime. These include:

  • Creating an independent organisation to collate self-reported courier experiences of crime, accessible to couriers, the police, delivery companies and local authorities. This would allow couriers to better assess the risks they face and encourage collaboration between the police and other authorities to tackle courier crime.
  • Making sure food delivery companies provide better workplace protection and financial security, both to prevent crime and to encourage couriers to report it if they become a victim.
  • Ensuring the police take reports of courier crime more seriously by acting upon intelligence and providing a greater police presence in crime hotspot areas.

The Police Foundation’s Director, Rick Muir said:

“Not only can a stolen moped have a devastating impact on a courier’s livelihood, the same moped is then used to commit other offences, such as drive-by possession snatches, fuelling a wider pattern of crime. For too long the risks faced by food delivery couriers have been overlooked. The harm these crimes create deserves greater attention from local authorities, the police and the food delivery platforms.”

Read the report