THREE men were arrested for suspected immigration offences during a special operation in Widnes, it was disclosed today.

Police officers joined forces with Halton Council’s licensing department, the Gambling Commission and the UK Border Agency to mount checks on five late night takeaways and fast food outlets.

Two premises failed to have a premises licence holder.

Environmental health issues were identified at three businesses.

These matters will now be followed up by the UK Border Agency and Halton Council.

Chris Carney, Cheshire Police′s licensing enforcement officer for Halton, who led the operation, said: "This is one of a number of multi-agency operations that have been carried out in partnership with other agencies in Halton.

"Regular checks are carried out at premises to ensure that they are adhering to the conditions of their licence.

“Action will be taken against any premises found to be in breach of their licence. The laws surrounding late night refreshment premises exist to ensure that they operate safely.

"The Safer Halton Partnership is committed to working together to monitor premises across Widnes and Runcorn and ensure that they are adhering to the conditions of their licence.”

"We would urge local residents to support our efforts and to be vigilant and to report any issues or concerns in relation to late night refreshment premises in Runcorn or Widnes to us immediately."

Alison Wray, head of enforcement for the UK Border Agency in the north west, said: "We will continue to track down those who have no right to be living or working in the UK yet remain here.

“This was a successful operation unearthing three immigration offenders. The message is clear if you are here illegally we will find you, we will catch you and we will remove you from the UK."

Cllr Stef Nelson, Halton Council′s board member for environmental health, added: "Strict conditions are applicable to all licence holders, and we will always be vigilant in enforcing these rules in the interests of public health and safety and the good of the wider community."

The operation was carried out last Thursday night, October 4.