Homeless people living in squallor and others left in cramped and filthy conditions were shown to our reporter as the police in the town focused on foreign nationals and their safety.
Operation Trivium is a national campaign by the police to target foreign gangs on Britain’s roads, but it also looks at the living and working conditions the foreign nationals in this country face.
Speaking before the work began on Operation Trivium, Sgt Gareth Boxall said: “It’s important for us to show that this operation is about criminality and is focusing on the most dangerous people within the area, including gang leaders and people on the roads.
“We have units going out with VOSA today who will be looking at vehicles with foreign national number plates to make sure that they are complying with the law.
“We also have officers going out to visit houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) to check that they are being properly managed and on the safety and wellbeing of the people within them.
“Along with this, officers will be going out to visit those in the area who are sleeping rough so that we can make sure we know who is out there and that they are safe.
“On operations like this, we work with dedicated interpreters who help us when the language barrier can mean that our job becomes more difficult.”
Yesterday, I joined PC Craig Lockton and PCSO Zara Nacheva as they checked on the safety and wellbeing of migrants in Spalding.
An aspect of the town which can often be forgotten is the homeless, but they are well known to the police who stopped off at several different sites in Spalding during their Operation Trivium works.
On arriving at the Bull and Monkey site, we walked to the back of the pub and discovered a sleeping bag, empty cans, women’s clothing and an object clearly used for cooking heroin but as there was no one around who clearly used the area as a home we moved on from the stark reminder that people are in a situation where they must sleep rough in the town.
We then moved on to the site where the Welland Hospital used to be situated on Roman Bank. On crawling through the wire fencing and heading to the bottom of the plot, we found wire fences covered in clothes and then three tents.
The tents appeared to be empty, until the officers looked inside one and found a man who was known to them as a young Polish man and had been living down there for a while.
PCSO Nacheva can speak four languages, so was able to help convey both sides of the conversation to both the young man and PC Lockton.
The officers returned to the same site just a few hours later, to find another Polish man and an English man both living in the other tents.
PC Lockton and PCSO Nacheva talked to the men and asked them about their situations - PCSO Nacheva once again using her bilingual skills to interpret what the Eastern European man was saying - the men were looking for work and looking for somewhere to live - the officers talked with the men to try and help them and reassure them that they are being looked out for by the local police.
A spokesperson for South Holland District Council said: “We are aware of the people in the tents and have been in regular contact and working with them to help them off the streets.
“No one in South Holland need remain homeless on our streets. Tackling homelessness is a council priority and as part of that we work closely with the Framework rough sleeper outreach service.
“Framework work with individual rough sleepers and make alternative arrangements to sleeping on the streets - this ranges from, according to need, accommodation or a flight home.
“Anyone aware of someone sleeping rough should contact Framework on 0800 066 5356 24 hrs a day.”
The officers also visited HMOs in the town on the search for migrant workers, with the main focus of their job being to make sure that everyone is safe and if they are being looked after by their employers.
The conditions in a property on London Road caused the police great concern, with fire alarms not working, electrical wires hanging from ceilings and walls, black mould on the walls and water leaking throughout.
The letting agent in charge of the building said: “A local landlord bought the property at auction approximately three months ago and we, along with South Holland District Council and the fire service immediately identified that there were faults with the condition of the property.
“There is a schedule of work that needs to be carried out to the property but due to the nature of the work it cannot be carried out while there are still people living there.
“We have carried out the correct legal procedures to take posession of the property from the tennants and when finalised we will be able to carry out the work needed to get this property to a correct and suitable standard.”
Discussing HMOs, the spokesperson for South Holland District Council said: “Houses in multiple occupation in South Holland, as with all of the UK, must for the protection of tenants, meet certain standards.
“We encourage and welcome reports of poor standard HIMO’s and will fully investigate these latest ones as we do with all.
“There has been a robust programme to assist property owners to bring empty homes back into use and a significant number have now been returned to homes