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Nineteen illegal workers have been caught by UK Border Agency officers during a raid on a Leicester clothing manufacturer on Wednesday 16 February.
Acting on intelligence, officers visited House of Creation on Hildyard Road. They sealed all the exits, to prevent potential offenders from escaping, before questioning 60 staff and checking their immigration status.
Officers discovered that 19 of the staff did not have permission to work in the UK. They were all Indian nationals – 18 men and one woman – who had either entered the UK illegally or were working in breach of their visas.
Fourteen illegal workers were arrested and detained while five were temporarily released on immigration bail.
After the operation at the textiles factory, UK Border Agency officers carried out house searches in the Leicester area in order to recover passports for the illegal workers. Officers also discovered £3,000 in cash at the house of one of the offenders. This was seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Action is now being taken to remove all of the illegal workers as soon as possible.
The business was issued with an on-the-spot penalty notice for employing illegal workers and may now face a fine of up to £190,000.
To avoid this, the employer must prove to the UK Border Agency that it carried out the correct pre-employment checks on staff.
Phil Dyer, Assistant Director for the UK Border Agency in the East Midlands, said:
“Illegal working adversely affects local communities and denies job opportunities to local people. Employers are expected to carry out basic checks on identity documents before recruiting new staff. House of Creation is now facing a potential fine of £190,000 and needs to prove that these checks were made.
“We will continue to work with those employers who wish to comply with the law whilst targeting those employers who think that the law does not apply to them”.
Employers unsure of the steps they need to take to avoid employing illegal workers can visit http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/employers or they can call the UK Border Agency Employers Helpline on 0300 123 4699.
Anyone who suspects that illegal workers are being employed at a business in Leicestershire can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously or visit http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org.