Man Arrested in Multi Agency Operation
17th June 2011
A 30 year old Indian male was arrested in Kent yesterday following a multi agency operation led by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) and HMRC Specialist Investigations.
The arrest, on suspicion of supplying workers without a valid GLA Licence, was made following an investigation involving officers from the GLA, HMRC, UKBA, Kent and Essex Police Forces and Gravesham Borough Council.
A number of farms, business premises and residential addresses were visited and UK BA officers detained 20 individuals for suspected immigration offences.
Investigations are continuing into various offences including the suspected serious exploitation of workers, including the examination of the accommodation provided to workers.
During the arrest at the premises of the male £4,000 was identified in unpaid wages for workers for the period January and February. The GLA is in the process of ensuring that the retained wages are now paid to the workers. The arrested male was interviewed and bailed until 27 July 2011.
Paul Whitehouse, Chair of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority said:
This was an excellent example of inter-agency co-operation. We shall continue to work with our partners across the country to ensure the fair treatment of workers and a level playing field for businesses. We shall also work to identify any evidence of forced labour which may lead to further charges being brought.”
Unlicensed activity can often be used to shield serious exploitation of workers from the authorities. Ensuring the workers receive their wages demonstrates the GLA’s commitment to their welfare. We will not stand by and see the unscrupulous activity of Gangmasters put low paid workers at risk of going into debt, or debt bondage.”
Notes to editors
1. It is an offence to supply labour in the agricultural sector without a licence. If proven, the offence can carry a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment, a fine, or both.
2. The new offence of forced labour came into legislation in 2009. The GLA issued guidance on forced labour – GLA Brief 9
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