Ilford business leader dubs illegal workers raid ‘out of order’

Ilford businessman Khalid Hussain

Ilford businessman Khalid Hussain - Credit: Archant

The chairman of a business group has called raids cracking down on illegal workers “degrading”.

Ilford Lane action day - enforcement officers from all different departments such as street cleaning

Ilford Lane action day - enforcement officers from all different departments such as street cleaning, planning, trading standards etc, joining together for a blitz of Ilford Lane, an area known for issues such as prostitution. - Credit: Archant

Shoppers and workers in Ilford Lane, Ilford, were asked about their immigration statuses as part of an action day which also tackled vandalism and littering in the area.

Chairman of the South Ilford Business Association Khalid Hussain, saw officers from immigration, customs, police and Redbridge Council in high-visibility jackets combing shops, and claims he has heard from about 30 concerned businesses since the day last month.

Khalid, who owns K1 Tyres in Ilford Lane, did not receive a visit from officers himself but feels a less “heavy-handed” approach is needed to combat the issue of illegal workers.

He said: “It’s designed to embarrass people and make people look small.

“We don’t mind what they do, I can understand why they have to but this was very high profile and degrading to the people of the community – people are very bitter about it.”

The businessman is calling for a “softer approach” despite the action day targeting areas based on police data.

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Khalid said: “Working closely with the shopkeepers would have had a better response and not caused the obvious distress to many people, both shoppers and shopkeepers alike – they were made to feel uncomfortable and insecure.

“The way they did it was totally wrong. Immigration has been doing it for years and they have been doing a great job and that’s fine, but having about 40 people in high-visibility jackets turn up is what we’re against – it’s out of order.”

Cllr Ross Hatfull said: “These operations by their very nature mean people will be questioned about their activity. Some people won’t be happy with that and we’d always expect to see some complaints. This is a natural consequence of enforcement that cannot be avoided.

“However, the vast majority of feedback from passing residents has been hugely positive. They are telling us that they are happy to see us, that they are pleased we are taking action.

“If businesses aren’t doing anything wrong, they have nothing to fear.”

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