September 2 2014 Latest news:
Melissa York, Reporter
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Traders from Queen’s Market have added their voices to claims of “racial profiling” during immigration raids after residents expressed concerns over spot checks at Stratford station last month.
Similar operations have been carried out at the market in Green Street, Upton Park, over the past two years which are “massively intimidating” and cause “damage” to the market’s reputation, according to traders and supporters.
Neil Stockwell, a Queen’s Market trader, said: “There were several immigration raids last year.
“They concentrated exclusively on black and Asian people; customers as well as traders.
“They bring TV crews, too. All this really damages the market which attracts so many customers to Newham.”
The Home Office has confirmed they send immigration officers from UKBA out on joint raids in the area but a spokesperson said their raids were based on intelligence and not race.
Council enforcement officers also came under fire for setting up joint raids at the undercover market.
Pauline Rowe, secretary of Friends of Queens Market, said: “The Council sets up mob-handed trawls with police, civil enforcement officers, immigration, even Health and Safety, too.
“These are massively intimidating. Customers and the public have a right not to be harassed or picked on just because they are young and black or Asian.
“All the officials have different powers but they change places and double up so the public don’t know where they stand.”
But Newham Council insist their approach is an efficient way of cracking down on illegal immigrants and a “small minority of traders who seek to rip off” shoppers.
Cllr Ian Corbett, executive member for infrastructure and environment, said: “They do not target people on the basis of their ethnicity, they are intelligence-led with input from residents who complain about being ripped off or sold unsafe products.
“Twelve enforcement notices have been issued at Queen’s Market since April 2012 and 31 illegal immigrants arrested.
“We will continue to work with responsible traders there to ensure the market remains a thriving and safe place for residents and visitors to shop. Instead of simply criticising the Council for its actions, legitimate traders should be working with us to improve the market.
“Queens Market employs a large number of local people and the council is doing everything we can to ensure it flourishes.”