Gangmasters Licensing Authority signs landmark agreement with the Scottish police to drive out rogue gangmasters and protect vulnerable workers
23rd April 2008
A landmark agreement between Scottish police and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) has been signed to protect vulnerable workers from exploitation and abuse. It sets out how the two organisations will work in partnership to drive out rogue labour providers who continue to exploit vulnerable workers in agriculture, shellfish gathering, and the associated processing and packing industries.
The shocking news of the murder of a Lithuanian worker in Arbroath this month shows, in particular, the importance of the agreement and the need for the GLA to work with the police on major investigations of this nature. The deal has been signed by Deputy Chief Constable George Graham of the Association of Chief Police Officers for Scotland (ACPOS) and Chairman of the GLA Paul Whitehouse.
Mr Whitehouse, said:
“It is imperative that we work in partnership with the police to try to stop the exploitation of some of the most vulnerable workers who are often forced to endure the most terrible abuse despite being employed by so-called respectable businesses.
“How we protect workers, many of whom are immigrants, is one of the most important challenges facing the UK today. Those at the sharp end working together to share intelligence can only be of benefit.”
Deputy Chief Constable George Graham said:
“The Scottish agreement follows on from the signing of the agreement between police in England and Wales. Here in Scotland we are delighted to play our part in working with the GLA to tackle the criminal exploitation of vulnerable workers. More than 1,100 gangmasters are now licensed to operate legally in the UK and the GLA has uncovered worker exploitation and illegal activity that led to the revocation of 55 licences."
Notes to editors
1. The Gangmasters Licensing Authority was set up to curb the exploitation of workers in the agriculture, horticulture, shellfish gathering and associated processing and packaging industries. It was set up following the death of 23 Chinese cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay in 2004. The majority of workers involved in these industries come from countries such as: Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, India Pakistan and Portugal.
2. There are currently 1186 gangmasters licensed by the GLA
3. A gangmaster is an individual or business who:
• supplies labour to agriculture, horticulture, shellfish gathering and food processing and packaging
• uses labour to provide a service in the regulated sector, eg harvesting or gathering agricultural produce
• uses labour to gather shellfish.
To be granted a GLA licence all businesses must meet the GLA licensing standards and the principle authority of the business must meet ‘Fit or Proper’ person criteria. Cross government checks are made on all licence applications.
4. It has been an offence to supply labour to the GLA regulated sectors since 1 October 2006, with the maximum penalty being ten years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
5. All licences that are revoked have the right of appeal including licences revoked with immediate effect.
6. Copies of any appeal decisions can be obtained from the appeals secretariat Gangmasters Licensing Appeals, Defra, Electra Way, Crewe, Cheshire CW1 6GJ Telephone: 01270 754231, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
7. Paul Whitehouse Chairman of the GLA is available for interview.
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