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Government pilot joint agency approach for tackling black market economy

Tackling black market businesses can be done more effectively with joined-up working between local and national agencies, the results of a Department for Communities and Local Government pilot scheme suggest.

The five Better Business Compliance Partnerships, which encouraged councils, national government, police and the Food Standards Agency to share data and pay joint visits to businesses which may be breached regulations, ran from October 2014 to June 2015.

Ealing, Hertfordshire and Cheshire West and Chester developed partnerships to tackle food businesses which failed to comply with regulation, including compiling lists of businesses at risk and guidelines for non-compliance and educating officers from one agency about identifying signs that would interest another. As a result of this approach, 51 businesses of interest were identified in Cheshire and 2257 were found in Cornwall and 331 in Cornwall using automated data comparison.

Marcus Jones, minister for communities, said: “By sharing data, joint visits and acting as each other’s ‘eyes and ears’ – fewer rogue businesses can slip through the net. I’d encourage all councils to see what more they could do to ensure their legitimate businesses can compete on a level playing field.”

Cornwall developed a multi-agency approach across the country to tackling illegal working, including identifying areas of joint risk and patterns of offender behaviour and developing a database to compare business records.

In contrast, Manchester and Salford focused on a small area straddling the councils’ boundaries, focusing on a wide range of issues including the distribution of counterfeit goods, fraud and money laundering.

However, the report warned that there is no one size fits all partnership model and that partnerships must be developed with respect for data sharing law, which it found there was a lack of awareness of amongst agencies.


Peter   15/04/2016 at 08:26

While this is clearly valuable work and I applaud the efforts of those involved, yet again I am staggered that such common sense approaches have not been adopted automatically. Can I assume that until now, the public agencies have NOT been working together? Alcoholic beverage gathering in a brewing establishment comes to mind - again!

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