Man arrested over unlicensed shellfish operation

By Gwen Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

A man ahs been arrested on suspicion of gangmaster offences
A man ahs been arrested on suspicion of gangmaster offences

Related tags: Meat & Seafood

A man has been arrested on suspicion of gangmaster offences In Northern Ireland, in relation to an unlicensed seafood gathering operation.

Intelligence gathered by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) indicated that a 40-year-old Lithuanian man was operating a gang of shellfish gatherers to collect periwinkles on a commercial basis along the County Down coastline without a licence. 

Officers from then GLAA were supported by Police Service Northern Ireland PSNI in conducting search warrants at two addresses in Newry on Thursday March 3. 

Public Prosecution Service  

The suspect was interviewed under caution by the GLAA before being released while a report is prepared for the Public Prosecution Service. 

GLAA Senior Investigating Officer Martin Plimmer said: “Supplying workers into the shellfish sector without a GLAA licence is a criminal offence carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and an unlimited fine. 

“We will not hesitate to take action with our partners if we have reason to believe that anyone is deliberately flouting our regulations which are there to protect vulnerable workers.” 

This arrest followed a five-year slavery order served to Catalin Victor Gergely last month after being suspected of threatening and exploiting vulnerable workers at a south-west England meat processing plant. 

GLAA investigation 

An investigation by the GLAA found that workers were living in overcrowded conditions and were forced to pay off debts to Gergely, leaving them with little money for food.  

The GLAA concluded that the order was necessary to protect members of the public from any potential future criminality. Gergely is now bound by four strict conditions which, if breached, will result in criminal prosecution. 

If you believe someone is acting as a gangmaster without a GLAA license, call the authority’s intelligence team on 0800 4320804 or email vagryyvtrapr@tyn.tbi.hx​. 

Meanwhile, ambient food and drink processor Princes has teamed up with Bright Future,​ an employment programme that provides victims of modern slavery with a pathway to paid employment and reintegration into society. 

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