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MATES come together in Shropshire

A Shropshire MATES taskforce has carried out raids to help safeguard vulnerable people.


Yesterday morning (Thursday 8 June) the county's Multi-Agency Targeted Enforcement Strategy (MATES) taskforce targeted illegal working and visited two premises suspected of employing staff with no legal right to be in the country.

As a result of the activity a number of people have been safeguarded and have been offered help and support. The living conditions at one of the properties were of concern and will now be improved as a result of today's intervention.

The raids were carried out in Shrewsbury and in Bridgnorth. 

Inspector Becky Bishop said: "Illegal working has far greater consequences and often those who are being employed when they have no legal right to be in the country are being exploited by individuals taking advantage of them."

Launched in 2017 in Shropshire and Telford  the MATES initiative sees Police, Fire Service, Trading standards, Environmental health, Home Office immigration, Housing enforcement, HMRC and the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority all work together to tackle a range of issues.

Illegal working, counterfeit and smuggled tobacco, rogue landlords, unlawful houses of multiple occupancy and serious breaches of fire and safety regulations are among the issues the taskforce target.

Exploitation of workers, modern slavery, human trafficking and child sexual exploitation are also key issues for the partnership.

Last month two people were arrested in a day of action by the MATES taskforce in Telford.

Inspector Bishop added: "The MATES partnership sees a range of different agencies come together where we can share information, making our approach to tackling these issues much more coordinated and robust. It helps us build a bigger picture of what is happening and strengthens our efforts to take action.

"We all have a different role to play but by working together we can better tackle issues that are often not obvious such as labour exploitation, modern slavery and child sexual exploitation. Tackling the sale of counterfeit and smuggled goods or rogue landlords and unlawful homes of multiple occupancy can often lead to uncovering something much bigger and help us protect some of the most vulnerable people in our society."

Station Manager Ian Leigh from Shropshire Fire and Rescue said ' this was another example of effective joint working.  There are benefits for all agencies and we are keen to continue with it."

Dean Carroll, Shropshire Council's deputy Cabinet member for housing, said: "Officers from the Community Protection Team identified a property to be a House in Multiple Occupation with a number of health and safety hazards, putting the tenants' safety at risk. We will be working closely with the landlord to ensure that the hazards are removed and the property is appropriately licenced. Shropshire Council is committed to such multi-agency working and will be carrying out more visits in the near future to ensure a safe and a good standard of rented accommodation in Shropshire."

Published 08/06/18