Men detained by Home Office after being found living in Birmingham shop storeroom

The men were found living in the storeroom of a shop in Acocks Green

Two men who were living in a tiny and windowless storeroom of a shop in Acocks Green have been arrested and detained by the Home Office for overstaying their visas.

The shop was also found to be selling counterfeit bottles of wine. Licensing officers discovered staff were also not properly trained to sell alcohol, and CCTV procedures were not being followed.

Select Xpress is a convenience store selling groceries, alcohol, and tobacco on Warwick Road in Acocks Green.

Immigration Officers In Xpress Select Acocks Green. Credit: Sandford House Home Office Immigration.

Immigration officers visited the shop on Tuesday March 22 and discovered a store room, which had to be opened with a screwdriver, had been converted into two bedrooms.

One shop employee was cooking on a gas canister inside one of the windowless bedrooms while on his break.

The only fire escape was blocked by crates of drinks. He said he was a student, and had worked in the shop every day for one month, for five-to-six hours a day. He explained he received free food, accommodation, and money.

Another man said he had been working there for six months for 60 or 70 hours a week, with Sundays off. He said he was paid £5 per hour and the accommodation was free. Both men had their passports seized before being detained at Sandford House immigration reporting centre in Solihull. A civil penalty of £20,000 was issued to shop owner Harry Khan for the employment of the two workers.

Xpress Select was also found to be selling 24 bottles of counterfeit Yellow Tail wine in June. Council licensing officers received a complaint from a member of the public in February that they had bought a bottle of Jack Daniels and tobacco which “did not seem right” from the shop.

Outside Store Room Bedrooms Of Select Xpress. Credit: Sandford House Home Office Immigration.

The Jack Daniels was found to be genuine, but a previous tip off in January from a different source indicated the shop was selling counterfeit Embassy Gold cigarettes. As a result, licensing officers arranged a visit on June 21 and found 23 bottles of Yellow Tail 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon which had known dodgy lot codes, and one bottle of 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon which also looked suspicious.

All bottles were found to be counterfeit. Birmingham City Council Licensing committee will meet next Tuesday morning to review the premises licence and decide whether to modify or withdraw it. In a letter to the committee, West Midlands Police said: “[We have] no confidence in the management of these premises.

“The fact that there is no possibility that the counterfeit wine could have been accidentally purchased through the legitimate supply chain means that the premises would have knowingly and willingly purchased the wine outside of the normal recognised legitimate outlets, probably ‘off the back of a lorry’.

“The premises have put money and profit over the promotion of the licensing objectives.” The current licence holder for Xpress Select is Mr Rajiny Harykaran; the licence was transferred to him from Mr Vanniyasingam Gunaseelan on May 14.

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