Police in London have rejected accusations of a heavy-handed approach after officers stopped dozens of food delivery riders in a 90-minute operation following numerous complaints from the public.
Metropolitan Police’s Roads and Transport Policing Command tweeted the details of their operation, that took place on Tuesday afternoon along with officers from immigration enforcement.
Over the 90-minute period, officers in Tooting stopped 48 bikes, seizing two mopeds for no insurance, while three riders were reported for various offences.
There were also two arrests for immigration offences, police said.
The force said that the complaints were regarding "the manner of driving and lack of driving documents".
There were tweets in support of the police for their operation, with one person writing that it was “a job well done”, and that the bikers “should have the correct paperwork, insurance, licence and citizenship”.
However, there was also criticism directed at the police with complaints including claims of “criminalising” and “racial profiling” the workers.
Directly responding to the force’s tweet about the operation, one person wrote: “Translation: Real police work is hard, so we racially stereotyped a group of people and randomly stopped them.”
Another added: “Would be interested to know that this wasn’t just a move to enforce immigration cloaked as bike checks but I doubt you'll be able to say it isn’t.”
Responding to criticism over over why immigration officers were involved, the force said: "Immigration enforcement had sufficient intelligence to justify an enforcement operation."
They added: "These are stop sites where we stop motor vehicles of all shapes and sizes for random document and vehicle checks."
The Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) said that the operation in Tooting “is harassment of precarious workers, who are overwhelmingly from racialised communities”, who are “constantly targeted by immigration enforcement”.
A spokesperson told Yahoo News UK that "the presence of immigration enforcement officers makes it hard to believe this operation was really responding to complaints about delivery riders".
They added: "It looks far more like an immigration raid dressed up as a traffic stop.
"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 Commissioner [Cressida Dick's] assertion that her force is not institutionally racist".
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