Intelligence officers will police the gangmasters in the Fens and West Norfolk
THE head of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) today unveiled a new approach to tackling those who exploit migrant workers. Intelligence officers will be drafted in to West Norfolk and the Fens to gather information on illegal operators. Thousands
THE head of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) today unveiled a new approach to tackling those who exploit migrant workers.
Intelligence officers will be drafted in to West Norfolk and the Fens to gather information on illegal operators.
Thousands of workers, many of them migrants, work for gangmasters providing labour to farms and packing plants.
Some are still believed to be paying illegally-low wages, making illegal deductions from their pay or housing them in overcrowded conditions.
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Last night Ian Livsey, chief executive of the GLA, said: "We know where the hotspots are for gangmaster activity and the East of England is obviously a very important area for us.
"We'll be putting people into areas like Wisbech, Boston and Spalding to get under the skin of problems at a local level.
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"On top of that, we're going to be bringing in regional intelligence officers, they'll be intelligence experts who will be collecting information on what gangmasters are doing.
"It's a fairly fluid kind of industry, they'll soon be picking daffodils in Cornwall, then it will be East Anglia for produce, then Scotland for soft fruits.
"We believe having people on the ground will give us good intelligence to protect workers and legitimate businesses."
Mr Livsey heads a 100-strong team at the GLA, which was set up after the Morecombe Bay tragedy, when 23 Chinese cockle pickers died. Some had moved north from King's Lynn weeks earlier.
Gangmasters must now be licensed before they employ workers. Those who break the law or mistreat their workers lose their licences and their details are placed on a public register.
East Anglia, parts of the West Midlands, West country and Scotland are the main centres of gangmaster activity in the UK.