Socialist Worker

Racist immigration raids mark the start of Tories' Operation Centurion

Issue No. 2406

Immigration enforcement officers carry out raids all the time

Immigration enforcement officers carry out raids all the time (Pic: UKHomeOffice)

The Tories’ latest racist ­crackdown on undocumented workers, Operation Centurion, began on Monday of this week. Raids were taking place as Socialist Worker went to press.

One of the first was in Ilford, in east London. Some 19 people were arrested there on Tuesday morning.  It was one of those listed in the Centurion document revealed by Socialist Worker.

The plan for the two-week operation was exclusively revealed by us last week.

Centurion has been carefully scheduled to take place just after the elections. The Tories want to show how tough they are on immigration after the success of Ukip.

The operation is run by the Home Office, but it also includes a range of other government offices. 

Socialist Worker contacted several departments that leaked documents show to be involved. 

The Gangmasters Licensing Authority confirmed it is taking part, but would not comment further. Revenue and Customs revealed, “Op Centurion is not an HMRC-led operation, so as such you would need to speak to the Home Office directly”.

However the Home Office would only issue a fixed statement, “Enforcement officers carry out intelligence led operations around the country every day. Their job is to arrest, detain and remove people who have no right to be in the UK.”

The leaked document lists some potential firms to be targeted but not dates.

Many entries talk about working with management against workers without papers. One states, “FIOs (Field Intelligence Officers) are liaising with cleaning companies with a view to arrests by appointment being made”.

Another, part of Operation Abate, a joint project with Sussex Police, will be “looking into trafficking involving LKA (Sri Lankan) Nationals.”

The level of detail varies between regions. One entry in the South East region reads: 

“Agriculture: FIO’s and arrest team will visit 2 farms based in North Kent and Canterbury to look at current workforce, offer employer advice and if offenders identified these will be arrested.”

In the City of London it notes, “Suspected repeat illegal working at a blue chip company is being investigated with a view to referring it to CFI (Criminal and Financial Investigation) as appropriate.”

As for working with other agencies, it notes, “Transport Agreement made with TfL (Transport for London) for joint working across boroughs (amount to be confirmed) with TfL compliance officers.”

This suggests that raids could be combined with ticket inspections, which has happened in the past.

Hunting down undocumented workers is not about protecting people from exploitation. It is an attack on the most vulnerable in society. 

It is part of an attempt to deflect workers’ anger against each other, instead of against the Tories’ austerity agenda.

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