Probation and Community Service for first prosecuted gangmaster
30th May 2008
A gangmaster who pled guilty to contravening the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 at the Sheriff Court of Tayside, Central and Fife at Forfar last month has been sentenced on Thursday 29 May 2008. Fiona Jane Clark of Bracken Brae, Perth has received 18 months probation and 140 hours of community service for operating without a gangmasters licence.
She is the first person to be convicted under the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004. Fiona Clark supplied a workforce of approximately 20 workers during November 2006, the majority of these were migrant workers. During sentencing the Sheriff stated:
“It is important that they (workers) are treated fairly and in accordance with our law, and are not subject to exploitation.
“Clearly, this is not a case at the upper end of the spectrum. On the other hand, there is a need to send out a clear and unequivocal message that the requirements of this statute must be adhered to, both in spirit and in accordance with the letter of the law.”
“What I propose to do, particularly in light of Miss Clark’s domestic circumstances, is to impose a Section 229 Order, which will place Miss Clark on Probation for a period of 18 months, and at the same time require her to complete 140 hours of Community Service.”
“If the Act had allowed me to disqualify Miss Clark from operating as a Gangmaster or labour provider, that is a matter to which I would have given serious consideration. However, that option is not available to me.”
Paul Whitehouse, Chairman of the GLA said:
“This will be the first of many prosecutions, we will seek out gangmasters who operate illegally and prosecute them.”
“We are not just targeting the gangmasters we can also prosecute the growers, processors and packers who use unlicensed gangmasters.”
“We are determined to enforce the law. Where we find illegal activity we will seek the appropriate sanctions”.
Anybody who has information about rogue gangmasters should contact the GLA on 0845 602 5020 or our anonymous reporting form available in nine languages at www.gla.gov.uk/report.
Notes to editors:
1. The GLA was established in 2005 to curb the abuse of workers in agriculture, shellfish gathering and food processing and packaging. It was set up following the death of 23 Chinese cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay in 2004.
2. It is illegal to supply labour to the GLA sectors without a licence. The maximum penalty in a Sheriffs’ Court in Scotland is six months in prison and a fine. Those who use unlicensed gangmasters also face up to six months in prison and a fine.
3. There are approximately 1,200 gangmasters licensed by the GLA.
4. A gangmaster is an individual or business who:
• supplies labour to agriculture, shellfish gathering and food processing and packaging
• uses labour to provide a service in the licensed sectors; or
• uses labour to gather shellfish.
5. To be granted a licence, all businesses must meet the GLA licensing standards and be ‘fit and proper’.
6. To date, 57 licences have been revoked, including 8 with immediate effect. Please contact the GLA Press Office for examples of the Authority’s work.
7. Paul Whitehouse is available for interview.
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