FIVE men have been arrested in an immigration raid on a Ponteland restaurant.
Officers from the UK Border Agency carried out the operation at Bawarchi Indian Restaurant in Brewery Lane last Thursday, acting on intelligence.
Five Bangladeshi men, aged 24, 30, 31, 33 and 36 were arrested on suspicion of immigration offences as none had permission to work in the UK. They included all of the restaurant’s chefs, leaving only the manager and a waiter on the premises.
The restaurant has been issued with a civil penalty notice and now has 30 days to show that it carried out proper checks on its staff, or it could face a fine of up to £10,000 for each illegal worker it employed – a potential total of £50,000.
The arrested men have been interviewed and steps will be taken to remove them from the UK.
Northumbria Local Immigration Team Manager Wallace Wilson said: “The UK Border Agency will continue to clamp down on employers who choose to use illegal labour.
“We carry out regular operations like this across the whole of the region.
“Immigration crime is not victimless. It defrauds the taxpayer and takes advantage of some of society’s most vulnerable people.
“If you are an employer using illegal labour expect a visit from our officers and expect to pay a heavy fine.”
Specially-trained officers carried out the enforcement action as part of a national initiative to tackle immigration crime.
The UK Border Agency provides a range of support to businesses to help them understand the rules, from compliance visits to telephone and website advice, but employers are responsible for carrying out checks before they employ migrant workers.
Anyone who suspects that illegal workers are being employed at a business can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111, or alert the Northumbria Local Immigration Team on 0191 2380484. Alternatively, visit www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/aboutus/contact/report-crime/