GLAA leads shellfish gathering investigation in Hampshire
23rd June 2020
As part of an investigation to target modern slavery, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) has spoken to potential victims on the seafront in Hill Head, Hampshire, today (Tuesday June 23) following multiple reports of shellfish gathering.
The investigation is being led by the GLAA and supported by Hampshire Constabulary, Fareham Borough Council, and Immigration Enforcement.
Police received information regarding large-scale cockle picking along the shoreline, and the investigation will focus on the suspected exploitation of the workers collecting the shellfish, contrary to the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004.
On arrival, officers found a large group of people collecting shellfish on the shore.
Around 40 people were spoken to as potential victims of labour exploitation at two separate locations on the shoreline.
Officers from Hampshire Constabulary’s Special Constabulary, Marine Unit, the Drone Unit and the Roads Policing Unit were involved in today’s operation, alongside partners.
GLAA Senior Investigating Officer Jennifer Baines said: "We know only too well the tragic consequences that illegal shellfish gathering can have when we think back to the Morecambe Bay cockle picking disaster of 2004, in which 23 Chinese workers lost their lives.
"That’s why we take reports of illegal shellfish gathering extremely seriously, it’s why there is legislation that governs those who employ people to do this type of work, and it’s why it was crucial we acted today with our partners to ensure we understand fully what has been happening on the seafront in Hampshire today. Our investigations are continuing so we can learn fully what has been going on.”
A Hampshire Police spokesperson said: "We would like to thank Hill Head Sailing Club for their co-operation as we make enquiries in the area.
"Thousands of people from across the world are being exploited in conditions of slavery here in the UK.
"If you suspect someone to be a victim of modern slavery or human trafficking, contact the 24/7 Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700, or 999 for emergencies.
"You can also call the GLAA on 0800 432 0804 or alternatively call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit www.gla.gov.uk."