Page last updated at 11:52 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 12:52 UK

Illegals firms named and shamed

Illegal workers in Derbyshire
Crackdown: Illegal workers at a raid in Derbyshire

Companies which employ illegal immigrants have been named and shamed in a further attempt to crack down on people smuggling.

The move by the Home Office comes four months after officials launched a concerted effort to identify and prosecute companies breaking the law.

More than 200 companies have already been fined for hiring illegal labour.

Some trade union leaders question the government's strategy, fearing it could drive the worst employers underground.


No companies were prosecuted in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

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The UK Borders Agency has published how many illegal immigrants the companies were employing and how much it was fined.

Some 35 firms have been named on its website, alongside 37 directors. They were fined a total of almost 303,000 for employing 56 illegal workers. The vast majority were restaurants or take-aways.

In all, there have been 265 fines since February under the new rules, totally 2.35m.

The total number of prosecutions is 10 times higher than the total for 2007, and double the total for the previous decade, say officials. Some 6,300 operations during 2007-08 led to 5,500 arrests.

'Mr Bigs'

Immigration chiefs are switching their focus from small-time illegal employers, such as caterers, in an effort to uncover so-called "Mr Bigs" - major organised criminal enterprises supplying illegal labour, often relying on international networks to smuggle people into the UK.

Raid on the home of the director of a college allegedly used for illegal immigration scams

Enforcement officers raided four language colleges and a firm of solicitors on Thursday as part of the new strategy's launch. At least eight people were arrested for what officials alleged was an organised student visa scam.

Nationwide, some 7,500 immigration officers will be re-organised into at least 70 localised teams including police and customs officials. Officials hope these will be better placed to target black economy hotspots.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said: "When newcomers come here they enter into a deal with the UK - to work hard, play by the rules and earn their right to stay.

"These changes will ensure our frontline officers can continue to implement these reforms and meet the tough targets we have set the UK Border Agency."

Uncountable problem

Nobody knows how many people are working without permission in the UK - although estimates put the number of illegal residents at more than 500,000.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: ""It is better late than never, but it does not say much for the urgency with which ministers are tackling our chaotic controls on migration.

"We need exit checks immediately so we can be sure that the terms of temporary visas are respected."

Some employers say they cannot be expected to know if a passport or other documentation is real or a sophisticated forgery.

Trade union leaders have also raised concerns about the government's strategy.

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said: "Any steps to shame bad employers into treating their workers better are worth trying, but we'd prefer to focus on prevention and making sure migrant workers aren't exploited in the first place.

"Naming and shaming is locking the stable door after the bad employer has bolted - by the time an employer gets on this register their exploited and abused migrant workforce will probably have been kicked out of the country."

'Bogus' language colleges raided
19 Jun 08 |  Education
Borders policing body begins work
03 Apr 08 |  UK Politics

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