Public enlisted in tackling illegal working

Home Office unveils new ways to tackle illegal working
Home Office unveils new ways to tackle illegal working

Immigration officers will be encouraged to use "smarter" criminal intelligence when tracking down illegal workers, the government has announced.

Better working practices are intended to complement the introduction of 800 new officers at the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND), paid for by a doubling of funding in the department announced this summer.

One new initiative involves encouraging members of the public to inform on illegal workers or on the firms employing them. People will be able to use the Crimestoppers phone line to this end from January.

The IND will also work much more closely with the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca) - anecdotal evidence suggests about three-quarters of illegal entrants are brought to the UK through criminal gangs.

The agency has already committed one quarter of its operation effort at groups that exploit immigration and Mr Reid said the evidence it could share with immigration officials was invaluable.

In addition, a new leaflet campaign has been launched to inform 500,000 companies across the agricultural, construction, manufacturing and hospitality industries of their responsibilities in tackling illegal immigration.

Under the Immigration Asylum Act 2006, firms can be fined for taking on illegal workers, individual officers can be disbarred and persistent offenders can have their assets seized.

"These measures are the next step in a comprehensive strategy building on the commitment that I made in July to transform the IND and boost its enforcement capability to ensure we tackle illegal immigration and provide a fair and effective immigration system fit for the 21st century," said home secretary John Reid.

Mr Reid was forced to admit earlier this year that the Home Office and the IND in particular were "not fit for purpose", after a series of scandals involving illegal immigrants and foreign prisoners.

He announced a wave of measures to improve the way the directorate deals with immigration, and Home Office minister Liam Byrne said today that the first step in this effort was ensuring current laws were properly enforced.

"By bringing to the table 25 per cent extra staff and a commitment from Soca to work closely with the IND to ensure our work is coordinated and supported by shared intelligence helps achieve our aims," he said.


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