A Mansfield textile recycling company could face up to 300,000 in fines after 30 immigration offenders were arrested for working illegally at the firm in a Home Office sting operation.
[UPDATE 16/11/16 Since 2014, Savanna Rags has put in place more robust measures to ensure the right of its employees to work in the UK, including the training of a dedicated HR manager and the use of an external employment agency. See letsrecycle.com story.]
Acting on intelligence, Immigration Enforcement officers, supported by officers from HMRC, visited Savanna Rags International Ltd on Forest Road in Mansfield at around 10am last Wednesday (March 19).
Staff at the firm were checked as to whether they had the right to work in the UK. As a result, officers arrested 27 men and three women aged between 23 and 54 who were found to be in the UK illegally.
According to the Home Office, the majority 21 were from Ghana. Other nationalities included six Indians, two Nigerians and one person from Niger. Of those arrested, 26 had overstayed their visa, three had entered the UK illegally, and one had obtained leave to remain by deception.
Five of those arrested were detained pending removal from the UK, with the remaining 25 placed on immigration bail while action is taken to remove them from the country, the Home Office said.
Savanna Rags will now be served a notice warning that a civil penalty of up to 10,000 per illegal worker arrested will be imposed, unless proof is provided that the correct right-to-work checks were carried out. This is a potential total penalty of up to 300,000.
Alison Spowage, assistant director for immigration enforcement in the East Midlands, said: This was a large scale operation targeting suspected illegal working in Nottinghamshire. We have dedicated and well-resourced teams, and the message to employers who choose to flout the law is clear: we will catch you and you will pay a heavy penalty.
‘This was a large scale operation targeting suspected illegal working in Nottinghamshire. We have dedicated and well-resourced teams, and the message to employers who choose to flout the law is clear: we will catch you and you will pay a heavy penalty.’
Alison Spowage, assistant director for immigration enforcement in the East Midlands
Illegal working exploits some of societys most vulnerable people. It also undercuts honest employers, cheats the treasury and takes jobs away from those with a legal right to work. I would urge members of the public with specific and detailed information about suspected immigration abuse to get in touch.
According to the Home Office, the HMRC officers involved in the operation were part of a dedicated taskforce to uncover and tackle those employers who are not paying what they should, either in tax to HMRC or the national minimum wage to their employees.
Jonathan Warburton, HMRC taskforce leader, commented: Our taskforce is identifying those employers who operate outside the system to avoid paying VAT, PAYE and the national minimum wage, which is stealing millions of pounds from local people and the UK economy.
Paying the national minimum wage isnt optional, it is a workers legal right. We will help employers to understand their responsibilities, but will also relentlessly pursue those who deliberately break the law.
When contacted by letsrecycle.com, Savannah Rags International declined to comment.
The company buys secondhand clothing, shoes, handbags and bedding for recycling from businesses and charities.
In October 2012, Savanna Rags was awarded a contract by disability charity Scope to collect clothing from 68 of its shops in the middle of England. (see letsrecycle.com story).