Traumatised victims claim sexual harassment by food delivery drivers

A woman who claims she was sent flirtatious text messages by an UberEats driver told ITV News it 'scared' her because 'he knew where I lived'.

Words by Sophia Ankel

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the victims

The sun had already set when Lauren* went to track down her takeaway. It was not unusual for delivery drivers to get lost while looking for her house – a small boat docked along a canal in east London.  

Just a few feet away, under a bridge, she spotted two men wearing what appeared to be Deliveroo jackets and the company’s signature green backpacks.

She had just approached them when she said the men grabbed her and violently pushed her into the wall.  

“I had two black eyes, and my nose was bleeding, and they just shoved their hands down my trousers and just touched me,” she told ITV News. 

“It was all over quite quickly but…the thing that upset me the most about it at the time was that I didn’t do anything. I just froze. I just completely froze. 

“By the time they left, my trousers were halfway down, and I was sort of just standing against this wall and my nose was bleeding and I was just shocked really. And I sort of gathered myself up together and ran home,” she added. 

Lauren immediately called the police, but with minimal CCTV footage in the area, officers were unable to help much, she said.  

She sent an official complaint to Deliveroo via their app – but said she never heard back from them. 

“I basically got a customer service response saying you know; we’re taking it seriously and we’ll get back to you. But I never heard back,” she said. 

She said she never followed up with them because of how “ashamed” she was about what had happened, adding: “I wanted to sort of forget about it. So, after a while of trying to get an update, I just gave up and just decided to forget that it happened.” 

Lauren is among a number of women in the UK who told ITV News they have been sexually harassed by food delivery drivers.  

The allegations range from flirtatious text messages and verbal harassment to indecent exposure and rape. They involve drivers working for Deliveroo and UberEats. 

The incidents often leave the women traumatised and feeling unsafe in their own homes.

Many choose not to speak out, and there is little public data available about reports made to the police, or to the companies. 

Lauren’s experience left her deeply traumatised – she couldn’t walk home on her own for a long time and ended up getting a dog to feel safer. Eventually, she moved her boat house out of London. 

“I found that I wasn’t enjoying being on the canals in London anymore. I was feeling unsafe. I’d get spooked by cyclists coming by and things like that, and I just sort of thought that, actually, I’d like to leave this environment,” she said. 

Figures obtained by ITV News via Freedom of Information requests offer a glimpse into the extent of the problem.  

Of the requests made to 45 police forces across the country, 18 of those who responded to the requests held data for crimes of this nature – the highest of which was in the West Midlands, where officials recorded 12 sexual harassment cases involving delivery drivers between 2020 and 2023. 

Another region recording cases of this type is Cornwall and Devon, where police said they recorded seven cases of indecent exposure involving food delivery drivers in the same period. 

Many police forces were not able to respond to the requests as they do not specifically log sexual harassment claims based on occupation of the perpetrator.  

The peak number of cases recorded in the 18 police forces that responded, logging this type of offence, occurred around 2021, during the coronavirus pandemic, when many people were at home, and ordering more take out. 

If you’ve had bad experiences with food delivery drivers in the UK and would like to share your story, please contact

Some of the cases were more extreme: Last month, a food delivery driver was sentenced to two years and ten months in prison in Doncaster after he hid in a woman’s bathroom, and then cornered her and repeatedly asked her for sex. It is not clear what company he worked for.  

In September 2021, an UberEats driver was handed a three-year community order after he pleaded guilty to sexually harassing a 16-year-old girl who had ordered a McDonalds to her parent’s house in Denton, Manchester.

The driver asked the teen to ‘rate’ him on the app before kissing her on the cheek and pulling her in to squeeze her bottom. He tried pulling away a blanket that she had wrapped around her before she screamed and ordered him to leave her house.

The driver had been fired from the company prior to his court date.

A woman from south Wales, whose Deliveroo driver climbed into her bed and tried to kiss her after she left her front door unlocked, told ITV News: “He tried to kiss me, I think twice, maybe three times, and I could feel the erection on my leg at that point.” 

“I used to like getting food delivered frequently but that shook me,” the woman, who did not want to be named, added.  

The woman was able to push the man off her bed before he got spooked and ran out of the house before she could call police. 

Last year, he was jailed for two years and eight months after admitting to sexual assault. 

“The stress at the time caused me to have sciatica, I’ve had to be signed off work for weeks at a time, which I’ve put down as PTSD,” she added. 

But it is feared the reported cases are only the tip of the iceberg. 

Legal experts told ITV News that cases are on the rise – the most prevalent of which involve drivers who message customers after they have dropped off food at their address.  

Danielle Vincent, a Senior Associate in the abuse specialist personal injury department for law firm Hugh James, said her team has seen “a significant increase in reports of delivery services using personal contact details to inappropriately contact customers after the transaction has been completed.” 

She said: “This has included sharing indecent images, sexual harassment by way of inappropriate langue or ‘banter.’ 

“Sadly, there have also been reports of sexual assaults. No doubt having an individual know where you live and having your personal details can be not just intrusive but very frightening. 

Katreena* told ITV News she received numerous text messages from an UberEats driver in 2023 after ordering a take-away. One of them, she said, called her “sexy” while another asked her on a date, 

“I ignored them, because sadly I’m used to it. But it did scare me as he knew where I lived,” she said.  

She did not report the case to UberEats. 

A poll published last year by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) shows that around one in three 18 to 34-year-olds say they have fallen victim to “predatory” text messages or calls from delivery drivers. 

“People have the right to order a pizza, or give their email for a receipt, or have shopping delivered, without then being asked for sex or a date a little while later,” Deputy Commissioner at the ICO Emily Keaney said. 

“They have a right to know that when they hand over their personal information, that it will not then be used in ways that they would not be comfortable with. 

“There may be, amongst some, an outdated notion that to use someone’s personal details given to you in a business context to ask them out is romantic or charming. Put quite simply, it is not – it is against the law.” 

When dealing with food delivery companies, Ms Vincent said there is often is a dispute whether a driver is deemed an employee or self-employed, which means a company would not be liable for the individual.  

As most companies class their drivers as self-employed, they tend to shift the blame away from them, she added. 

“That being said, ample training is supposed to be supplied by the company and clear CRB checks obtained. Data such as telephone numbers collected and passed on by the company to the driver should be limited to purpose and perhaps the ability for such information to be deleted as soon as the delivery is made should become mandatory,” Ms Vincent said. 

A spokesperson for Deliveroo told ITV News: “The safety of our customers is our top priority and Deliveroo has a zero-tolerance policy in place to deal with any harassing, discriminatory, or offensive behaviour.

“If we become aware of reports of this nature they are immediately escalated and we will work with the authorities to fully investigate, and cancel that rider’s Deliveroo account to prevent them from working with us again.”

An UberEats spokesperson told ITV News: “What has been described is totally unacceptable, and we have a zero tolerance policy on any such behaviour.

“Any courier found to have behaved in this manner faces permanent removal from the app. All customer phone numbers and addresses are anonymised for Uber Eats couriers, meaning they cannot contact customers or see their address after a drop off is complete.”

If you have been affected by anything in this article, help and advice can be found in the following places:

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