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Gas meter tampering and illegal worker found in crackdown on local businesses

Three local businesses were found to have tampered with their gas meters and one was caught employing a man who could not legally work in the UK, say police.

Officers swooped on 21 businesses in the Lancaster District after being told about the poor running of various late-night food premises.

This was part of Operation Pigeon, between Lancaster Police's licensing and exploitation teams, immigration officers, as well as licensing teams from Lancaster City Council, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, British Gas and Environmental Health.

The crackdown took place on the evenings of October 26, 27 and 28, when officers visited businesses including takeaways, off licences and corner shops. No arrests were made.

A police spokesperson said that three businesses had tampered with their gas meters and one business was employing a male who could not legally work in the UK.

There were also "environmental health and council licensing issues" at other premises.

“Part of my role is to ensure all licensed premises are trading in accordance with their licence and their premise is safe," said Licensing Officer Andrew Taylor from Lancaster Police.

“Operations like this are really worthwhile, as it allows all agencies to check compliance on a range of matters such as licensing, immigration, food standards, illegal use of gas and electric and modern slavery.

“Rest assured any premises that found to be committing offences are dealt with through the various agencies with possible prosecutions and, in some cases, a license review.

“If anyone has any information relating to any of these matters in local takeaways, you can contact Crimestoppers in confidence by calling 0800 555 111, or email myself at Andrew.Taylor2@lancashire.police.uk.”

Councillor Colin Hartley, chair of Lancaster City Council’s Licensing Committee, said: “Operation Pigeon involved the inspection of numerous premises with a late-night refreshment licence (hot food served between 11pm-5am) across the Lancaster City Council district.

“Our teams visited premises to ensure that they were aware of their responsibilities under the Licensing Act, that they were adhering to legal requirements and compliant with the conditions of their individual licence.

“Minor breaches were found, and our officers have since made return visits to premises which were found to be non-compliant.”

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