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Fashion brand Boohoo’s Burnley distribution centre (DC) was raided by police this morning (31 March) after alleged claims the company had breached social distancing measures introduced by the government during the COVID-19 crisis.

However, Boohoo confirmed the police left “without needing to take any action or make any recommendations” and hit out at claims that it had failed to protect workers at the two million sq ft hub, which employs around 500 people across two sites.

A Boohoo spokeswoman told “We are not sure where these reports are coming from as they are totally untrue, we have extensive measures in place.

“The police also attended our Burnley warehouse unannounced today following similar spurious reports. They toured the site, inside and out and left without needing to take any action or make any recommendations.”

The company operates two distribution centres, one in Sheffield, overseen by Clipper Logistics and another in Burnley, overseen by Boohoo group.

In a statement, the company said: “In terms of the Sheffield facility, we are in constant contact with the management team at the site and they too are implementing the stringent government guidelines to ensure the health and safety of their staff.

“In terms of Burnley, all of our customer services team are working at home and whilst we continue to operate the distribution centre itself, it is under completely different systems.

“We have implemented stringent hygiene, and strict self-distancing measures to ensure that we are following all the government guidelines and we are over communicating with the team to ensure that they are happy and following the new procedures."

The raid comes in the same week that the GMB union wrote to West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commission calling for an investigation into alleged claims from its members that social distancing measures were not being observed at Asos’ distribution centre in Grimethorpe, near Barnsley, operated by XPO, Boohoo’s Pretty Little Thing’s warehouse in Sheffield, run by Clipper Logistics, and Spectrum for Arcadia’s distribution centre in Leeds, which is operated by DHL.

Neil Derrick, GMB regional secretary for Yorkshire and North Derbyshire said: “If workers were gathering cheek by jowl in the street the police would be down on them like a ton of bricks – and rightly so.

“So why should it be different in these warehouses?

"If bosses can’t operate safely, they must shut down until they can.”

In response to GMB’s claims a spokesperson for DHL Supply Chain, on behalf of Arcadia, said: "In these exceptional circumstances, the safety of our employees and customers remains paramount. Following the government’s advice to shop online rather than visit retail stores, we are taking every precaution to fulfil this demand while protecting our distribution centre colleagues and drivers.

"Since the start of last week the Torre Road distribution centre, which DHL manages, has been following the government’s updated guidelines around social distancing, with regular enforcement by local management.

“All staff have been briefed on the importance of social distancing and the correct way to hand wash, while soap and hand sanitisers are readily available with clear instructions displayed throughout the operation.

"The management team is actively policing the site to ensure full compliance with our social distance policy and all high-risk team members have been instructed to self-isolate.

“All non-essential workers who can perform their roles from home have been instructed to do so. We will continue to carry out regular briefings while actively engaging with our on-site trade union steward to help reinforce the message, to ensure the wellbeing of all our colleagues.”

A spokeswoman for XPO, which operates Asos’ Grimethorpe DC said: “We’re supporting our colleagues by adhering to UK government and Public Health England guidance. As the situation evolves, all appropriate health and safety measures are being put in place, alongside regular two-way communication, which ensures staff are kept informed and we’re listening to any concerns they may have.”

An Asos spokesman said: “We totally refute these allegations. They are false and do nothing more than serve to create panic and hysteria in an already uncertain time. In line with government guidance, and with support from the Community Union and Barnsley Borough Council, we are striking the right balance between keeping our warehouse operational, for the good of our employees and the wider economy, and maintaining the health and safety of staff, which is always our number one priority. Since the lockdown, we have introduced a range of additional health and safety measures and the environmental health officer, who visited the site on Friday, confirmed he was happy with the protocols we have in place.”