A group of shops in Medway are facing hefty fines for employing illegal workers.
The three Kent Mart stores in Chatham, Rochester and Milton Regis were visited by a local immigration team from the UK Border Agency (UKBA). Acting on information, the team looked into the immigration documents of the employees and found that six people were working illegally.
At the Kent Mart in Chatham officers found three illegal employees. Two of the men were from India, aged 25 and 26, were found to have overstayed their UK visas. They have been arrested and are being held in an immigration detention centre ahead of their removal from the country. A 33-year-old from Algeria was also arrested but he has been released while his case is considered.
Over at the Rochester store, investigations found a 37-year-old man from Sri Lanka working in breach of the conditions of his UK visa. He is also being held in immigration custody until he can be removed from the country.
A third visit to the Milton Regis Kent Mart found a 28-year-old Indian man who had failed to leave the country upon the expiration of his UK visa and was continuing to work. As with this others, he is being held in immigration detention.
The Chaltham store was the subject of investigations back in November as well, when three illegal workers from Sri Lanka were arrested when it was found that they had no right to be working.
Fines of up to £10,00 for each individual worker could now be imposed on the stores unless they are able to prove the correct right-to-work checks were carried out before the three men were hired.
Jackie Fowler, head of the UKBA's local immigration team in Kent, commented: “We are carrying out operations like this across Kent every week and where we find people who are here illegally we will seek to remove them. We are also targeting employers who take on illegal workers - fuelling illegal immigration and undercutting law-abiding businesses.
“Companies who fail to carry out the legally-required checks on staff should know that we are out there looking for them and they will face heavy fines.”