Overcrowded accommodation uncovered during multi-agency operation in Scotland
18th May 2023
More than 50 Romanian workers have been interviewed as part of a multi-agency day of action in Scotland, with investigators discovering several overcrowded properties.
Officers from the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, and Perth and Kinross Council conducted the welfare checks on Wednesday May 10.
Twenty-three addresses across Perth and Kinross were visited, seven of which were identified as being overcrowded.
In the worst example, nine people were living in a two-bed property and workers were sleeping on mattresses in the living room with no washing machine or hot water.
In total, 54 Romanian workers were spoken to across the day, with safeguarding questionnaires completed and the GLAA informing them of their employment rights and entitlement to the National Minimum Wage.
GLAA Investigating Officer Fiona Panetta said: “We carried out the operation after receiving concerns that Romanian workers presenting as homeless to the local authority were potentially trafficked into the UK and exploited.
“Our investigations are still at an early stage but we plan to review all the questionnaires and accounts given during the day and we will address any issues identified.
“A number of workers said they had not received any payslips or were unaware of what they had been paid which we are in the process of rectifying.
“Working together with our partners is really crucial in ensuring that vulnerable workers are protected and all potential issues are thoroughly investigated and addressed.”
Councillor Tom McEwan, Perth and Kinross Council’s convenor of Housing and Social Wellbeing, said: “We are committed to supporting the health and well-being of all residents in Perth and Kinross and our housing officers were on hand to ensure any issues encountered could be dealt with swiftly during the multi-agency day of action.
“It is extremely disappointing that almost a third of the private properties visited last week were overcrowded and we will always take appropriate action when necessary.
“Nobody should be living in cramped accommodation without basic amenities, and we will be speaking to landlords about their responsibilities to their tenants and the need to make sure their properties are being used safely.”