GLAA conducts shellfish gathering operation on east coast
15th September 2021
Investigators from the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) have conducted a four-day operation on the North Yorkshire and Cleveland coast targeting unsafe working practices and potential gangmaster offences.
Enforcement teams visited Filey and Redcar between Monday September 6 and Thursday September 9 to challenge those suspected of gathering shellfish illegally or controlling workers without a GLAA licence.
Intelligence indicated potential risks to the pickers from inappropriate clothing and a lack of awareness of unpredictable incoming tides, hazardous rock pools and exposed cliffs.
Public health and food safety concerns from shellfish, crabs and lobsters unfit for human consumption entering the food chain were also of concern to investigators.
A number of people were spoken to across the four days of action and one individual was interviewed under caution by GLAA officers at Redcar.
Investigations are ongoing and further visits will be made to the restaurants and takeaway outlets across the UK where some of this shellfish is believed to have ended up.
This latest activity followed intelligence gathering and enforcement work over a three-day period at the end of August and early September.
Officers have also been out at Mersea Island in Essex over the past fortnight, speaking to a number of gatherers and issuing warnings for suspected gangmaster and environmental health offences.
Visits were conducted at all locations with the support of police, Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA), Food Standards Agency, HM Revenue and Customs’ National Minimum Wage team, and environmental health officers from local authorities.
GLAA Head of Enforcement Ian Waterfield said: “Shellfish gathering is a high priority sector for the GLAA and forms the cornerstone of our work. Many of you will remember the Morecambe Bay tragedy in 2004 and we were set up to ensure that illegal gangmasters could never again exploit vulnerable workers and cause loss of life on such a scale as that.
“We work with partner agencies to protect and educate those picking shellfish on our coastlines but also to ensure that supply chains such as restaurants are not tainted by labour exploitation or by food which is unfit for human consumption.
“We will continue to monitor and patrol the coastlines and will actively follow all lines of enquiry to disrupt and pursue potential criminal behaviour. This operation is not a one-off but a continuing programme of work which we are committed to.”
If you see someone appearing to direct or control a group of people while gathering shellfish, contact the GLAA’s intelligence team on 0800 432 0804 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, you can call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 if there are modern slavery or labour exploitation concerns.
Below are some of the things to consider which will help the GLAA with its investigations:
- How many were sighted?
- Do any appear to be minors?
- Were they male or female?
- When were they seen?
- Have you seen them before?
- Are there any health concerns?
- Is any more information known about a potential gangmaster/exploiter i.e. vehicles used, description?