Human trafficking is put under the spotlight in the Fens

Insp Robin Sissons, centre, briefs officers and the media before a recent Operation Pheasant investi

Insp Robin Sissons, centre, briefs officers and the media before a recent Operation Pheasant investigation into multiple occupation. The multi agency task force is tackling numerous issues surrounding immigration abuse. - Credit: Archant

Six cases of human trafficking have been uncovered in Fenland thanks to the multi agency task force Operation Pheasant.

The group, set up to oversee illegal immigrants, gangmasters and over crowding in houses of multiple occupation, will be reporting numerous successes when there is a meeting of a specialist committee at Fenland District Council.

Councillor David Oliver, Fenland District Council’s Cabinet member responsible for community safety, said: “We are really starting to get to grips with the many problems in the private rented sector and in particular the widespread exploitation of migrants by rogue landlords.

“Over the past year we’ve been working very closely with the police and many other agencies in Operation Pheasant; through that joint approach we’ve already made big strides.”

From November 2012 to June 2013 122 properties have been inspected and 961 voluntary questionnaires have been completed on pay and conditions and housing conditions.

There have been 33 voluntary repatriations of people trafficked into Fenland or who have come to Wisbech on the false promise of work which has led to exploitation and illegal eviction.

Some 139 issues have been addressed to correct faults in property safety standards and enforcement action has been taken in 15 cases.

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There have been 57 instances of gangmaster vehicle offences.

Mr Oliver said: “As well as uncovering numerous cases of overcrowding and other safety risks and taking action to address them, we’ve also dealt with several instances of human trafficking and abuses by some gangmasters. That work is continuing and is having a significant impact.”

The success of the work of Operation Pheasant will be reported to Fenland’s overview and scrutiny committee.