A CRACKDOWN on illegal working in Cheshire will continue into the New Year.
UK Border Agency officers raided dozens of business in the area during 2010, with a total of 24 handed civil penalties for employing illegal workers.
Fines totalled more than £210,000.
Cheshire employers are being warned that more operations to target lawbreakers are planned for next year.
Eddy Montgomery, operations director of the UK Border Agency in the North West, said: “We now have the power to hand out big fines to employers who use illegal labour, and those who do so knowingly could even end up in prison.
“We are happy to work with businesses to ensure they know what checks they should carry out on staff - there is plenty of information on our website and we have a dedicated phone helpline.
“But we get information all the time on illegal working, and those who do break the law need to know that we are out there looking for them and they will face action.
“Illegal working is not a victimless crime. It undercuts legitimate and law-abiding businesses, and takes jobs from those who are genuinely allowed to work.”
Immigration Minister Damian Green added: “In Cheshire alone the UK Border Agency has issued in excess of £210,000 of civil penalties to businesses employing illegal workers.
“We are making more use of new technology both at the border and inland to enable officers to focus their efforts on people trying to cheat the system.”