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Trade union slams ‘deplorable’ immigration raid on couriers in south London

Netpol says the action ‘contributes to the lack of trust in the police’ and adds to the assertion that the Met Police force is institutionally racist

A RAID by the Met Police and Immigration Enforcement on low-paid food delivery workers was deplorable, the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) said yesterday.

The union said that Tuesday’s operation in Tooting, south London, was an example of racial profiling by the police.

In a social media post, the Met Roads and Transport Policing Command (RTPC) boasted that it had stopped 48 bikes in a period of 90 minutes and that two arrests for immigration offences had been made.

It claimed that the operation, which it said was held with Immigration Enforcement, was in response to “numerous complaints” about riders.

IWGB president Alex Marshall, a former gig economy courier, told the Morning Star: “These key workers have kept the country going during the pandemic, delivering vital supplies to some of the most vulnerable members of society, whilst enduring poverty pay.

“As a thank you, they continue to be exploited by the likes of Deliveroo and Uber Eats and are targeted through racial profiling by the police.” 

Police monitoring group Netpol expressed doubt that the operation was actually launched in response to complaints against workers, given the presence of immigration officials.  

“It looks far more like an immigration raid dressed up as a traffic stop,” Netpol co-ordinator Kevin Blowe said. 

“Inevitably the vast majority of Deliveroo riders, 85 per cent of those stopped, were guilty of nothing more than being some of the lowest-paid, least-supported and most abused workers in the capital.

“Some may say a minor inconvenience like this matters little, but riders have incredibly time-sensitive deadlines to maintain.

“Using crude, ineffective stop-and-search powers to disrupt their livelihoods, knowing that riders are unlikely to complain, contributes to the lack of trust in the police and is one of the reasons why so many continue to challenge [Met Commissioner Cressida Dick’s] assertion that her force is not institutionally racist.” 

In a statement, the Met claimed that the operation was due to “community concerns about dangerous and anti-social driving of mopeds.”

It also claimed that Immigration Enforcement officers were carrying out “their own intelligence-led operation, separate from the focus of RTPC officers.”

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