SIX illegal immigrants have been deported after they were caught working on stalls at Lakeside.

Officers from the UK Border Agency swooped on Thurrock’s Lakeside Shopping Centre where they targeted workers on two stalls.

They found six people, who were selling belt buckles and women’s clothes and accessories, were both in the UK and working illegally.

All six, who were Israeli, were arrested during the raids on Wednesday.

Immigration officers then raided a house in Cresthill, Grays where four of the illegal workers had been living.

There they found two further offenders, who were also in the UK illegally after overstaying their visas.

Six of those arrested were deported home to Israel on Wednesday and immigration officials are now taking steps to remove the other three.

Immigration Officer Dave Butler, from the local immigration team for Essex and Hertfordshire, said: “We aim to create a hostile environment for those who break the law by coming to the UK illegally.

“Illegal working is not a victimless crime.

“It undercuts honest employers and has a serious impact on communities, taking jobs from those who are genuinely allowed to work.

“It can also lead to major health and safety abuses and result in the taxpayer being short-changed by employers who fail to pay contributions on their illegal workers.”

Officials at the UK Border Agency are still deciding on whether the stall owners will face further action.

If fined they could face a bill of up to £70,000 - £10,000 per employee - unless they can prove pre-employment checks were carried out.

The Lakeside Shopping Centre is not liable for any fines and co-operated with immigration officials throughout.