Raid on Bridgwater house

Sedgemoor District Council have just released information on a raid they carried out on a house in Bridgwater. The operation took place and involved not just the council’s Housing Standards Officers. They were joined by officers from Avon and Somerset Police and the Gang Masters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA).

The address of the property is not being disclosed for legal reasons although we understand it was in Bridgwater.  When the various officials entered the property they discovered that it was significantly overcrowded.  They believed the house would have had sufficient facilities for five people to live there.

Instead they found fourteen people living there.   Officers also found spare mattresses in a toy play house in the garden as well as within the house which suggested that there were even more than 14.

No details were released about why so many people were living in cramped quarters. However the fact that the GLAA issued a statement speaks volumes. They noted “The GLAA exists to protect vulnerable workers in the UK and this is a good example of multi-agency partnership working to achieve that aim. The Gangmasters (Licensing) Act requires people to have a licence to provide workers into agriculture, horticulture, shellfish gathering, food processing and associated packaging.  It provides safeguards for those at risk of exploitation and ensures that workers get what they are lawfully entitled to.  If we find evidence that our licensing scheme is not being followed, either deliberately or more simply through ignorance of the legislation, we will not hesitate to take appropriate action.”

Separately Sedgemoor District Council issued their own statement on the matter. “Sedgemoor will be taking emergency action to limit the numbers in the property by serving a Prohibition Order.  Prosecutions for operating an HMO without a licence can see a Civil Penalty of up to £30,000 or unlimited in the Courts. If convicted, any landlord would also be placed on the national database for Rogue Landlords. This would prevent the landlord from managing any HMO’s in the future. Proceeds of income from rent could also be confiscated.

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