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Eight held in immigration raid on cleaning firm at Oxford Brookes
9:20am Tuesday 5th November 2013 in News
IMMIGRATION officials have arrested eight South American members of a cleaning company working at Oxford Brookes University.
Home Office immigration enforcement officers visited the Headington and Wheatley campuses yesterday at about 6.45am.
Immigration checks were carried out on a number of agency staff members employed by Solo Service Group to work as cleaners at the university.
Five Brazilian men, a Brazilian woman and a woman from Paraguay were found to have overstayed their visas, and a 17-year-old Brazilian boy was found to be working illegally.
All eight were arrested.
Solo Service Group, based in Bishops Mews, Transport Way, Oxford, has held the contract for cleaning services at the university since 2007.
Divisional director Ron Martin said: “The immigration department contacted us and said they were suspicious that there were some individuals employed that shouldn’t be.
“We co-operated fully with them. A check is made on staff in advance and the documentation before we take them on is checked.
“We have never had a problem in the past.”
The firm employs about 500 people across the county, but would not say how many people were employed on the Brookes contract.
Five of those arrested are currently being detained before being deported.
Three have been released temporarily while their cases are investigated but they will have to report regularly to ensure the terms of their release are not breached.
Oxford Brookes HR director Bob Price said: “We understand that authorities are reviewing the immigration status of individuals employed by the cleaning contracting company Solo. The university has co-operated in providing a space for interviews to be conducted as part of this process.”
The Home Office said Solo Service Group could be liable for a fine of up to £10,000 per worker if it was found proper checks had not been carried out.
The Government is looking to potentially double the penalty for those using illegal labour to £20,000.
Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: “Illegal working encourages illegal immigration, undercuts legitimate businesses and is often associated with exploitation.”