Big rise in number of illegal worker arrests in North Yorkshire
By Jennifer Bell
6:30pm Monday 15th December 2008
A CRACKDOWN on illegal workers in York and North Yorkshire has seen a sharp increase in the number of migrants arrested over the past three years.
Covert operations fronted by the UK Border Agency have led to 84 arrests of illegally-employed migrant workers in North Yorkshire in the past 12 months. Of that figure, 32 have been arrested in York alone.
Their employers have since been served with notices of potential liability for knowingly employing illegal workers they collectively face fines worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The year before, records show 53 were arrested in North Yorkshire in 2006/07, with 24 of those being found working illegally in York. This is a sharp increase on the year before when only five suspected migrants were arrested in North Yorkshire, three of whom were working illegally in York.
Teams of officers from the agency conducted the intelligence-led visits, going to businesses to establish whether staff had the right to work in the UK, and 30 suspected illegal immigrants were arrested. The new systems of civil penalties mean the businesses that knowingly employed the illegal workers could face fines of up to 10,000 for each illegal worker employed.
Chris Hudson, the agencys regional director for the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, said: Each week, we conduct several visits to local employers suspected of employing illegal workers which has resulted in 14 notices of potential liability being served since the launch of civil penalties which relate to more than 30 people found working illegally.
Mr Hudson said the recent figures sent out a clear message to employers that the UK Border Agency would not tolerate illegal working.
Cracking down on illegal working is one of our priorities, he said. We will seek to remove from the UK anyone we find flouting immigration laws.
We carry out frequent operations in York, so if youre working without permission, or employing illegal workers, youre likely to get caught. We will not tolerate illegal working and that is why the UK Border Agency is investing more money in enforcement and forging ever-closer links with the police.
Many employers work with us to ensure they only employ legal workers.
But for those employers who do not take this issue seriously, our message is simple: if you employ illegal workers, you could face fines or prosecution.