BUSINESSES using illegal workers to cope with the Christmas rush will be caught out – that’s the message from UK Border Agency bosses after a spate of raids in County Durham.
Restaurant staff have been arrested in the fight against illegal workers, and two businesses are now facing hefty fines.
The stings earlier this week were part of a national crackdown on immigration crime by the UK Border Agency.
Acting on tip-offs, the teams raided the Royal Chef Chinese Takeaway in Park Road, Stanley, on Wednesday evening.
Officers carried out checks on staff and discovered two Chinese men, aged 42 and 49, and a 34-year-old Malaysian woman did not have the right to work in the UK.
The trio were arrested on suspicion of immigration offences.
The team then moved onto KS Convenience Store in Model Terrace, Penshaw, near Houghton-le-Spring.
A 25-year-old Indian man was arrested on suspicion of immigration offences.
Wallace Wilson, from the UK Border Agency, said: “Restaurants and other businesses tempted to use illegal workers in the busy festive period should beware.
“We are continuing to carry out our intelligence-led patrols and will clamp down on employers who try to cheat the rules. Illegal working undercuts honest employers and defrauds the taxpayer out of huge sums of money.
“Our officers work all year round to catch those who seek to abuse the system. The message is clear – no matter what time of year, employers using illegal labour can expect to be caught and to pay a heavy financial penalty.
“We would urge members of the public with detailed information about suspected illegal working to get in touch.”
Both businesses now face hefty fines after being issued with civil penalty notices of up to £10,000 per illegal worker.
In a bid to avoid the fines, the owners must show UK Border Agency officers proper checks were carried out on their workers. Steps are being taken to remove the arrested individuals from the UK.
The agency provides a range of support to employers whose responsibility it is to carry out the checks.
Anyone who suspects illegal workers are being employed can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/aboutus/ contact/report-crime