OFFICERS from Reading Council’s Licensing Team have received a prestigious Home Office award.
Clyde Masson, Richard French and Peter Narancic, all from the Council’s Licensing Team, were nominated for the Director’s Commendation Award from the Home Office for their joint work with Immigration Enforcement Officers.
They received the award at a ceremony on Wednesday 25th April at the Home Office in London.
The Council’s Licensing Team has been working in partnership with Immigration Enforcement and Thames Valley Police over the period of a year.
The team organised ‘action’ days, where based on local intelligence, they visited local businesses and uncovered various breaches of licensing regulations, as well as illegal workers. A number of these premises have had their licences reviewed and the Immigration Enforcement Team has taken further action.
In total, there have been over 65 joint inspections of places holding a premise licence in Reading. This includes restaurants, takeaways and off licences.
Results achieved include:
· Sixty-five premises were visited up until end of March 2018;
· Thirty-one illegal workers were found in 23 premises;
· Eight premises (six off licences and two restaurants) had their licence revoked, with fines of £20,000 for each illegal worker;
· Fifteen premises faced performance reviews and had conditions added to their licence to prevent these issues from re-occurring; They will potentially have their licence revoked should the situation reoccur.
Many premises were found to be in breach of their licence conditions; for example, with no authorised person on site to sell alcohol. A number of health and safety and food hygiene issues were also flagged with the Council’s Environmental Health Team.
Cllr Sarah Hacker, Reading’s Lead Member for Consumer Services, said: “Congratulations are due to the Licensing Team and everyone involved in this initiative. This well-deserved award recognises the excellent partnership work that has taken place between Reading Council, Immigration Enforcement and Thames Valley Police and the impressive results they have achieved. The strong working partnership has been very effective and we intend to carry it forward in future.
“It is worth remembering the human cost behind this type of illegal activity. The workers uncovered by this operation often face unacceptably long hours and pay below the minimum wage; they often have no relevant tax and national insurance contributions and their employment is usually tied to them keeping their accommodation, leaving them little choice but to accept the conditions.
“The Council strongly advises all businesses to check their employees have permission to live and work in the UK, as action will be taken against them by Immigration Enforcement and the Council if illegal workers are found.”