Fenland leading way in tackling rogue landlords who exploit migrant workers

About six workers were sleeping in this garage at a Wisbech HMO earlier this year. However, since th

About six workers were sleeping in this garage at a Wisbech HMO earlier this year. However, since the last inspection, the beds have been removed. - Credit: Archant

GOVERNMENT Ministers have been briefed on the action being taken to combat rogue landlords who exploit migrant workers in Fenland.

Councillor David Oliver, Fenland District Council’s portfolio holder responsible for community safety, and Sarah Gove, the council’s housing and communities manager, travelled to London last week to discuss Operation Pheasant with Housing Minister Mark Prisk, Immigration Minister Mark Harper and other senior officials.

They outlined the progress made in tackling problems faced by mainly migrant workers living in overcrowded Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

Fenland is submitting an application to central Government for funding to further tackle the issue.

Cllr Oliver said: “We explained the success our approach was having in tackling a range of complex issues, including fraud, exploitation, crime and poor property conditions and management.

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“It was a very productive meeting. The response was very positive and we are now hopeful of securing extra resources to take the work forward.”

Since its launch six months ago Operation Pheasant has uncovered six cases of human trafficking, identified 57 gangmaster vehicle offences, produced an information pack for tenants giving advice on where to get help and on issues such as fire safety, trafficking and pay and conditions and facilitated 26 voluntary repatriations.

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In addition, more than 120 properties have been visited and nearly 1,000 voluntary questionnaires completed, providing valuable information from people who are usually hard to reach.

The Metropolitan Police and a London borough have both contacted Fenland District Council to learn more about Operation Pheasant’s approach.

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