April 8, 2019

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Human trafficking

Almost 1,000 potential human trafficking reports made in five months at car wash sites

A number of issues have been flagged up by users of the Safe Car Wash app, including lack of protective clothing and workers living on site, all of which are signs of human trafficking.

washing-carAs part of The Responsible Car Wash Scheme, the Responsible Car Wash Scheme was launched by the Church of England’s anti-slavery arm, known as the Clewer Initiative, last summer

The app allows smartphone users to learn about the signs of labour exploitation in hand car washes and report their concerns to the Modern Slavery Helpline. In its first three months, the app had been downloaded more than 7,000 times and produced over 2,000 reports to be acted upon.

Some of those reports include fearful workers, lack of protective clothing and workers living on site, some of the signs that people maybe working in conditions of slavery.

The app’s organisers said that there was a likelihood of modern slavery involved in 41% of these reported cases and users were advised to take matters further and call the Modern Slavery Helpline. However, only 18% of people went on to make that call.

In the cases that were reported, 48% thought that workers didn’t have access to protective clothing, 80% commented that the car wash had a cash only policy and 17% said that workers looked fearful.

According to the Home Office, there are more than 10,000 victims of human slavery in the UK, across multiple industries, with people being forced to work with little or no pay. Hand car washes is one trade where exploitation is thought to be widespread.

In February, SHP reported that the House of Commons environmental audit committee published the Government’s response to a report which called for hand car washes to be licensed to prevent “modern slavery in plain sight on Britain’s streets”. The Government stated a “voluntary pilot approach” which brings together all the partners involved would be preferable to a compulsory scheme.

Also last year, Adam Gomes CMIOSH spoke to SHP some of the issues small businesses and temporary summer ventures may overlook, after observing some bad practice at his local hand car wash.

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