Local MP Steve Barclay has welcomed the setting up of a multi-agency task force targeting rogue landlords, overcrowding and anti-social behaviour in his constituency.
The task force, code named ‘Operation Pheasant’ brings together a number of agencies and aims to crack down on issues such as street-drinking and petty crime associated with Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).
Mr Barclay has been campaigning for several months on the issue. He has met the Home Secretary twice and had high-level meetings with senior civil servants to encourage them to take the problem seriously.
He said: “The exploitation of migrant workers is a cause for real concern and only by working together can all the different authorities begin to make some progress. Vulnerable people are being cruelly exploited for financial gain, and I warmly welcome the formation of this task force.
“I’m pleased to see something positive is being done to tackle this very serious problem. I’ve been pushing for multi-agency action on this for some time and recently raised it again with the Home Secretary.
“I have been very concerned about these issues and I’m very glad to see positive action is being taken. A concerted effort will help to prevent extremist, racist groups feeding on the genuine concerns of local people.”
The growing number of migrant workers living in extremely overcrowded properties has led to exploitation by rogue landlords and other spin-off problems which are difficult for one agency to combat alone.
He has been working closely with Cambridgeshire Police to understand how to address the problems associated with migrant workers living in overcrowded properties. Many are subject to widespread exploitation, illegal eviction and threats of violence.
The task force will convene monthly to share expertise, monitor developments and take a lead in dealing with specific issues related to HMOs.
It is made up of representatives from Cambridgeshire Police, the Gangmaster Licensing Authority (GLA), Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue, the Department of Work and Pensions, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, UK Border Agency (UKBA) and Fenland District Council.
Mr Barclay added: “The task-force delivers a multi-pronged approach to the problem of workers living in cramped, overcrowded and substandard accommodation.”