Scottish authorities say Sri Lankans were among 17 foreign workers found to have been employed in the country illegally, following a raid conducted yesterday.
Scottish television reported that businesses, homes and fishing trawlers from the Solway Firth to Peterhead had been raided in an operation against the exploitation of foreign workers.
According to STV news the police found a total of 17 workers from The Philippines, Sri Lanka and Indonesia after they executed search warrants on premises in Annan and fishing boats in Peterhead and Silloth, Cumbria.
Around 150 personnel were involved in the raids, which were co-ordinated by Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary co-ordinated the raids.
Chief Superintendent Gary Small said: “I can confirm that we are currently co-ordinating welfare and support arrangements for 17 foreign nationals located during this morning’s searches.
“These individuals came to the UK from The Philippines, Sri Lanka and Indonesia to work in the fishing industry.
“Given we are at an early stage of a large-scale and complex inquiry, I am not in a position to comment further in relation to the specific nature of the allegations being investigated at this time.
“We are grateful for the assistance provided by a large number of partner agencies in this morning’s activity.”
Also involved in the investigation were the UK Border Agency, Border Force, the Scottish Crime & Drug Enforcement Agency, the Serious & Organised Crime Agency, Maritime & Coastguard Agency and Marine Scotland.
Joan McAlpine, SNP MSP for South Scotland, said: “I was as shocked as everyone else to discover that the widespread exploitation of foreign workers is allegedly happening right here on our doorstep, but we must remember that this is not a problem confined to other countries.
“We will see what else comes of this investigation as it develops, but let’s hope this successful operation today sends a message that the despicable exploitation of foreign workers will not be tolerated in Scotland.”