Gangmaster arrested in Kent

A 30-year-old Indian man has been arrested in Kent on suspicion of supplying workers without a valid GLA licence, following a multi-agency operation led by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA)

A 30-year-old Indian man has been arrested in Kent on suspicion of supplying workers without a valid GLA licence, following a multi-agency operation led by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) and Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs Specialist Investigations.

The arrest was made following an investigation involving officers from the GLA, HMRC, UK Border Agency, Kent & 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 ongoing into various offences including the suspected serious exploitation of workers and the examination of the accommodation provided to workers.

During the arrest at the man’s premises, £4,000 was identified in unpaid wages for workers between January and February. The GLA is now in the process of ensuring that the retained wages are paid to the workers. The arrested male has been interviewed and bailed until 27 July.

GLA chair Paul Whitehouse says: “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 that 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.”

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