Ipswich: Immigration raids across town net illegal workers

Home Office Immigration Enforcement officers question a suspected illegal worker in Ipswich.

Home Office Immigration Enforcement officers question a suspected illegal worker in Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

IMMIGRATION officers have carried out raids on 16 Ipswich convenience stores and off licences in a special operation targeting illegal workers.

Four teams of officers were involved in the crackdown codenamed Operation Compliance which netted at least five people working in the shops.

Those detained are understood to be of Sri Lankan or Indian origin.

In addition to the Home Office Immigration Enforcement teams, colleagues from HM Revenue and Customs tax evasion and shadow economy teams were involved in the raids which took place throughout yesterday. Officers from Suffolk Constabulary’s licensing team were also on hand.

Immigration staff were drafted in from Felixstowe, Swaffham and Bedfordshire to take part in the crackdown.

The officer in charge of the operation Mark Gear, of Home Office Immigration Enforcement, said: “We have conducted a series of co-ordinated visits to premises that have come to our attention in relation to the employment of illegal workers.

“We are looking at 16 premises, all in the Ipswich area, and have brought together teams from three different enforcement offices to maximise the impact and the potential results.

Most Read

“It is very important that we try new ways of working which gives us the opportunity to be seen to be active in the area, and will make the public more aware of us and get them to report their suspicions in the future.

“What we are looking at is both people who are working illegally and employers who are giving them the opportunity to do so.

“The important message is if employers want to work with us we are happy to work with them if they are doing things the right way. However, we will target those who operate in the shadow economy and they will face the penalties.”

In addition to illegal workers those involved in Operation Compliance were keen to ensure any shop owners were putting any money paid out or brought in through their books.

Some of those held during the operation were taken to detention centres.

Officers stressed any employer knowingly breaking the law and allowing illegal workers to work in their shop could face a £10,000 penalty.

At lease five notices were handed to employers warning them that if they were knowingly employing illegal workers they could face the five-figure fine and possibly further sanctions.