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 £20,000 fine issued to food premises owner

 11/09/2019

A £20,000 fine has been issued to a food premises owner following a multi-agency operation.

 

Durham and Cleveland officers, alongside partner agencies, visited three Lebaneat premises in Durham City and Yarm on Wednesday (September 4).

 

Partners included the National Crime Agency (NCA), the North East Regional Specialist Operations Unit (NERSOU), Durham County Council, Stockton Council, HM Revenue and Customs, Immigration Enforcement and Investigation, Department for Work and Pensions (DFW), County Durham and Darlington Fire & Rescue Service and Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA).

 

A £20,000 fine was issued by Immigration after a suspected illegal worker was discovered inside one of the premises.

 

A number of breaches were also found including failure to comply with building regulations, breach of food hygiene standards and minimum wage payments to staff - all of which are being reviewed. They were also given advice on a few minor deficiencies that the premises had under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

 

In addition, several issues were identified by Stockton Council in relation the sale of alcohol which are also being reviewed.

 

Kevin Benson, from the North East Regional Specialist Operations Unit (NERSOU), who led the operation, said it was ‘very important’ the public recognise the signs of exploitation when out and about in the community.

 

He said: "We always ask members of the public to help us and be our eyes and ears in the community because we can’t always be around to see what is going on.

 

"If you see something you think is suspicious, or you have concerns about someone’s welfare or the conditions they are living and working in, we would encourage you to report these to police, local authorities and other statutory bodies.

 

"With visits like this, our main aim is to protect vulnerable people from exploitation, under the banner of Operation Sentinel, our initiative to tackle and disrupt organised crime. While fighting crime is a priority for us, we are also committed to helping those in need."

 

Joanne Waller, Durham County Council’s head of community protection, said: “We welcome being part of this multi-agency approach, which demonstrates our continuing commitment to ensuring that County Durham remains a safe place to work, visit and eat”.

 

Anyone with concerns about labour exploitation happening in their area should call Durham Constabulary on 101.​ ​