The drivers, working for companies including Deliveroo, JustEat, and UberEats, were arrested for offences, including illegal working and possession of false documentation.
The majority of offenders were of Brazilian nationality. Indian and Algerian nationals were also found to be working without the right to do so in the country, a UK Home Office statement read.
Of those arrested, 44 were detained by the Home Office, pending their removal from the UK, with the remaining 16 being released on immigration bail. It is also expected that a number of the arrests will result in voluntary departure from the UK.
“Illegal working damages our communities, cheats honest workers out of employment and defrauds the public purse. As the Prime Minister has set out, we are committed to going further and faster to prevent the abuse of our laws and borders,” Britain’s Indian-origin Home Secretary Suella Braverman said in a statement.
“The British public deserve a labour market that is fair and honest and must have confidence that goods and services they buy are from legitimate businesses,” she added.
The operation also led to the seizure of weapons and cash suspected of being linked to criminal activity. Following thorough searches of properties linked to the arrests, imitation firearms and other weapons were found, while over 4,500 pounds was seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act, the Home Office statement said.
Immigration Enforcement carried out extensive intelligence-gathering ahead of the operation, to identify hotspots for illegal moped delivery drivers. Alongside relevant police forces, the Home Office deployed officers on six consecutive days (16 to 21 April), to make the arrests and detentions.
Indians are among the second-largest group of migrants crossing the English Channel illegally on small boats, with 675 recorded between January and March this year, according to recent statistics released by the UK Home Office.
The UK government said is clamping down on illegal working to ensure all companies and workers are contributing to the UK economy by complying with its tax and other regulations.
More widely, it can also be a pull factor for illegal migration, often trapping vulnerable people in poor conditions and exploitation while undermining the UK’s labour market. Employers in the UK can be jailed for five years and could pay an unlimited fine if they are found guilty of employing someone they knew or had ‘reasonable cause to believe’ did not have the right to work in the UK. (IANS)