Food delivery drivers have become a predominant target in a string of acid attacks across London. The most recent attacks which took place in November, involved two fast food delivery drivers who were targeted in two separate attempted robberies.
The first driver, Muhammed Nawshad Kamal, will most likely lose his sight after a hazardous substance was repeatedly thrown in his face, as two males attempted to steal his moped. The driver suffered injuries to his throat, face, and eyes, which were so severe that the victim was placed under an induced coma whilst being treated in hospital.
The second attack occurred just 30 minutes later, when a second driver was taken to hospital to be treated after a corrosive substance was thrown at him. Fortunately, in this instance, his injuries were not life threatening.
Such attacks as these are not as uncommon as you may think. In July, earlier this year, 5 individuals became victims to a series of attacks by two men traversing the area of Hackney on mopeds. First of the 5 victims, Jabed Hussein, was working for UberEats at the time, when a robbery, carried out with a devastating acid attack left him permanently scarred.
In 2016, a takeaway restaurant owner was attacked while delivering food in Barking. Imran Khan was confronted by a group of youths who demanded food and money as they hurled racist insults at him. When getting back into his vehicles, the attackers launched a corrosive liquid from a bottle into his face. The victim has since spoken out about the attack, stating that it affected him “big time”, and has left him feeling unsafe in public, especially during hours after dark.
Why are delivery drivers common targets?
As of late, delivery drivers have become repeated targets of street robberies, due to their use of motorbikes and mopeds as convenient modes of transport for food deliveries. However, being valuable, easy to steal and quick to get away on, determine motorbikes and mopeds as an attractive asset to thieves. With delivery drivers working late and alone in the evenings, particularly across the City and back streets, means that they are more susceptible to risk.
Sadly, thefts and attacks on delivery drivers have become so common in recent years, that drivers are beginning to refuse to work in certain areas, especially after dark. This has meant that over 70 drivers working for the renowned delivery app, Deliveroo, have refused to take jobs in known problem zones after 8pm, and many lone drivers have even considered leaving their job.
In fact, a protest outside parliament lead by acid victim, Jabed Hussain, saw support from hundreds of motorcycle and moped drivers who regularly drive through nearby streets for work. He disclosed:
“This shouldn’t be a job where your life should be put at risk.”
What can be done?
Acid is an increasingly popular weapon used in street robberies, particularly in London and its surrounding areas, due to it being so easily accessible for a low price. While police are cracking down on the sale of acid and those who use it, it is evident that more safety procedures need to be put in place by employers to protect the safety of their drivers.
This can be achieved through starting with safety wear and PPE, ranging from protective headwear, such as helmets and even goggles, as well as high visibility clothing. This type of workwear is invaluable in safeguarding lone workers as demonstrated by acid attack victim Jabed Hussein;
“I’m really lucky – the helmet is melted and my jumper is burned. The helmet saved me – the acid bounced off my helmet and only a bit got on my face”
How are apps enhancing health and safety?
With specially tailored and reliable features, apps and technology are expanding in the health and safety sectors. GPS tracking and raising of security alerts are just a few of the ways apps are able to assist lone drivers and provide critical protection.
Currently underway, Deliveroo have introduced new developments in their app which allow drivers to raise concerns of areas perceived to be at risk so that these areas can be avoided in future. The company say they ae also trialling head cameras.
Deliveroo’s managing Director, Dan Warne has since assured workers:
“We will do everything we can to protect our riders and have put in place new measures so that riders can report any concerns they have or even move to work in another area if they feel unsafe.”
How can StaySafe benefit the safety of delivery drivers?
The StaySafe app focuses on keeping lone workers protected. It can be activated whilst a lone driver is on a job, by the driver themselves instigating a check-in session so that their company can be notified of where they are and how long the duration of the duty will be. The hub can be notified if a lone driver is unsafe in several ways, depending on the danger they are in.
The failed check-in session, is one safety measure which means that if a worker does not cancel their session, the hub can be instantly notified of their activity and action the next relevant steps to ensure they are safe.
Amongst the StaySafe’s many safety features aimed at lone workers, is the panic button which can be pressed if a lone driver were to find themselves in danger or under attack, which will then directly alert the hub. Staff at the hub are able to pin-point the driver’s location instantaneously so that the driver may seek immediate assistance. In this way, the StaySafe app can also identify patterns of unsafe zones, which help towards risk assessment and areas to further avoid.
‘The man down’ setting can be initiated by the company if it is the case that a lone driver is unable to reach their device to select the panic button. It works when a lone worker’s movement has been undetected for ten minutes or more which could be cause for concern, especially for delivery drivers who would be moving around consistently while they work.
There is no doubt that the safety of food delivery drivers would benefit greatly from the StaySafe app. Most importantly, it can offer drivers peace of mind when on their own and travelling in the dark, to know that they have support behind them if something were to go wrong.