Food delivery drivers protest after spate of acid attacks

Food delivery drivers have staged a protest in London's Parliament Square following the recent spate of acid attacks.

About 200 moped drivers and motorcyclists blocked traffic in Westminster on Tuesday afternoon, before marching on foot to demand stronger penalties for those caught using acid as a weapon.

It came after UberEats and Deliveroo said their drivers were among those targeted during five acid attacks in less than 90 minutes in London on Thursday night.

One UberEats driver, who gave his name only as Worneh, said he no longer felt safe working in London.

"It's come to a point where riders, we don't feel safe," he said.

"Every time a bike pulls up behind us, we're always worried that it's our time for someone to throw acid in our face, or to stab us.

"It's not only riders, this is for the public in general as well. No one feels safe any more."

Worneh said he wanted extra police on the roads to chase suspects on mopeds.

"We want more police motorcyclists on the road," he added.

"There are certain areas we do not dare go in to after seven o'clock.

"We do want our companies, as well, to take heed of what is going on."

A 16-year-old boy has appeared in court charged over Thursday's acid attacks. He has denied 13 offences including robbery and GBH with intent.

One of the alleged victims, UberEats driver Jabed Hussain, said he was "too scared" to go back to work.

He told the Press Association: "I'm really scared. I don't know what to do. My wife, she's scared. My family's scared. They were asking me to leave that job, but I love that job."

In an email sent out to Deliveroo drivers on Tuesday, chief executive Will Shu said they should not work in areas that they feel are unsafe, and told workers to report safety concerns to the company and police.

The British Takeaway Campaign, led by food delivery company Just Eat and representing various groups in the industry, said there needed to be stronger rules to protect drivers.

Chairman of the British Takeaway Campaign, Ibrahim Dogus, said: "We call upon the Metropolitan Police to do everything in its powers to prevent further attacks, including restricting the sales of strong acid, and bring those carrying out these attacks to justice."

Lyla, a member of the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Community, a group which helped organise the demonstration, said the biggest problem for drivers was not the sale of acid, but the fact that attackers are also on mopeds.

She said criminals committing crimes in this way are confident that they will not be chased by police because of rules on pursuits.

"These people wouldn't have acid if they were trying to run on foot, on bicycles or in cars," she said.

She added that perpetrators can remove their helmets and be confident that police will not chase them.

"They know that they can run and the police can't do anything about it.

"We fully support everything (the police) want to do, they want to catch these people just as much as we do."

But she believes the attacks last Thursday could have been avoided with relaxed rules on police chasing suspects on mopeds.

"They wouldn't have been on the mopeds to start with," she said.

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