New app reveals almost 1,000 potential slavery cases at UK hand car wash sites

New app reveals almost 1,000 potential slavery cases at UK hand car wash sites
Hundreds of suspected cases of ‘car wash slavery’ have been reported through a new app launched to tackle the issue.

Since starting in 2018, the Safe Car Wash app has received 2,271 entries from motorists concerned their local hand car wash is operating illegally.

The app, developed by the Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales, is designed to help people report what they think might be potential signs of modern slavery or labour exploitation at hand car washes.

According to the app, there are several signs that illegal labour practices could be taking place:

  • Physical appearance of workers - including signs of physical or psychological abuse, or being scared of their employer
  • Signs workers are being bussed together - this could mean their movements are being tracked by traffickers
  • Workers unequipped with the correct safety protective clothing - especially if they are working with chemicals
  • Signs workers are living at the car wash - whether in caravans or in any forecourt buildings where there’s bedding
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Figures released by the Safe Car Wash app show 48% of reports noted workers weren’t kitted out with the right protective wear, such as gloves and boots.

A cash-only policy was flagged by 80% of respondents, while nearly one in five (17%) motorists reported having seen workers looking fearful.

Up to 14% of users believed the workers may be living at the car wash, while 8% said they saw children who could have been working illegally.

Speaking ahead of the app’s launch last summer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said he hoped it would help tackle the “scourge” of modern slavery.

He said: “Over the last few years we have learnt more about the evil of modern slavery and we have begun to understand how it is perpetrated in our communities in plain sight.

“Through the Safe Car Wash app we now have a chance to help tackle this scourge which is damaging so many people’s lives.”

Copyright Press Association 2019. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.

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