Scottish Daily Mail

Illegal worker arrests fall by half in 2 years

- By Ian Drury Home Affairs Correspond­ent

MINISTERS were blasted yesterday over a faltering crackdown on illegal foreign workers after it emerged that the number of arrests has almost halved in two years.

The Home Office has repeatedly promised to tackle the problem of foreigners unlawfully employed in the UK.

But while some 8,143 illegal immigrants were found to be working illegally in the UK in 2013-14, this had dropped to 4,814 in 2015-16, a decline of 41 per cent. An estimated 1.1million illegal immigrants live in Britain.

Ministers have hailed a wave of raids on firms employing non-EU citizens who do not have permission to be in Britain. The plummeting numbers arrested at the likes of building sites, care homes and cleaning contractor­s undermine the tough rhetoric.

Figures uncovered by Freedom of Informatio­n requests also showed a sharp decline in the number and proportion of illegal workers sent back home. During 2013-14 the Home Office deported 3,400 unlawful workers, around 42 per cent of those arrested. But by 2015-16 the share had fallen to 27 per cent – 1,295 of those caught.

Alp Mehmet, vice-chairman of the MigrationW­atch think-tank which campaigns for tighter borders, said: ‘These figures simply show that the response to illegal immigratio­n has fallen woefully short. While the Government’s latest legislatio­n has led to welcome new measures to tackle the problem, it will be just as important for those enforcing the immigratio­n rules to have the resources they need to do the job.’

Ministers have unveiled plans to tackle immigratio­n from outside the EU by making illegal working an offence.

The Home Office said: ‘Illegal working cheats the taxpayer, undercuts honest employers and means legitimate job seekers are denied employment opportunit­ies. We have legislated to make it harder than ever to work here illegally and introduced measures to remove people with no right to be here more quickly.

‘We are determined to take action against employers who flout the law by using illegal labour.

‘However, following arrest, there may be legitimate reasons why individual­s are allowed to stay in the UK.’

‘Cheats the taxpayer’

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