Investigating officers from the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) were joined by Police in carrying out a number of welfare visits to agricultural sites across the Isle of Wight yesterday (Wednesday).
Teams of officers from both the Home Office and Hampshire Constabulary conducted checks to ensure that farmers are getting the help that they need and that their workers are not at risk of exploitation.
It comes after a temporary licensing scheme was established by the GLAA for the food production sector in March in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Temporary licences are currently being granted to businesses operating within the wider labour supply industry who wish to support GLAA licence holders feed the nation.
Officers established a central rendezvous point at Downend and from there went out to numerous sites, conducting both welfare checks and issuing advice to farmers on how to spot the signs of labour exploitation.
GLAA Senior Investigating Officer Jennifer Baines has said:
“Despite the obvious challenges this awful virus has presented, we remain committed as an organisation to not only be heard by frontline workers during the crisis but also to be seen. They are doing an incredibly important job for the country at this difficult time which we recognise and want to help them with.
“We understand the pressures farmers and growers are currently facing in picking and harvesting crops, not only during this pandemic but beyond. As the coronavirus crisis subsides, we know that there will be uncertainties around the availability of foreign workers and the booking of future travel.
“In these times, more than ever, it’s vital that you report any concerns or suspicions that you have to us. The potential for labour shortages in the near future could create conditions in which exploitation can thrive if we are not alive to the risks.”
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Report concerns to the GLAA’s intelligence team by calling 0800 4320804 or contact them by email at [email protected].