Four arrested and 20 premises visited in operation to tackle organised immigration crime


Four have been arrested and 20 premises visited as part of a week of action to disrupt organised immigration crime in Cheshire.

Between 14 and 17 February, Cheshire Constabulary’s three Hidden Harm Teams (North, West and East) worked to tackle immigration crime under Operation Reorganisation.

The multi-agency operation was supported by each of the eight Local Policing Units (LPUs), the Gangmasters Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), Immigration Enforcement and the Medaille Trust.

During the week of action, four people were arrested for breaching bail, around 20 visits were carried out at car washes, barber shops, takeaway restaurants, and accommodation above these businesses with one closure notice and civil penalty being handed out at a barber shop in Widnes.

A £20,000 civil penalty was handed to a Warrington takeaway where three workers were found to be working illegally while a £10,000 civil penalty was issued at a car wash in the town.

Finally, a prohibition order was served by Warrington Borough Council’s housing department at a flat above a pizzeria in Warrington.

The operation was run in February to mark the ninth anniversary of the Morecambe Bay cockle pickers tragedy which ultimately led to a change in legislation around modern slavery and development of the GLAA.

Speaking about the operation, Northern Hidden Harm Team’s Detective Constable Danielle Wensley said: “Organised immigration crime is the illegal facilitation of migrants across international borders by organised crime groups.

“Clandestine entry to the UK poses a significant risk to life to migrants, who are often concealed within vehicles.

“Home Office statistics show a high level of clandestine entrants in Cheshire, and it is widely accepted that a number of these people will become victims of modern slavery offences and further criminal exploitation.

“This operation allowed us to work to tackle this issue and take action against those who were intent on causing harm to those who are most vulnerable and safeguard them from further harm.”

Anyone with concerns about organised immigration crime can contact Cheshire Police via 101 or visit the Cheshire Police website and a member of their local Hidden Harm Team will be in touch.

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