Safe Car Wash app leads to over 900 reports of potential modern slavery in hand car washes

Drivers who downloaded our Safe Car Wash app, launched last June to help raise awareness of modern slavery in hand car wash, used the app over 2000 times. 41% of their reports showed a likelihood of modern slavery in the hand car wash.

The Safe Car Wash app is designed to be used by someone going to get their car washed. At the hand car wash they can open the app, logging the location of the hand car wash. They will then be taken through a series of indicators of modern slavery; for example are the workers wearing protective clothing, and are there signs that they are living on site? When they finish the questions, the answers are sent to a database which can be accessed by law enforcement investigating modern slavery.

The results from June to December 2018 have been collated and analysed by the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab. Their analysis has shown us that in nearly half of reports, or 48%, workers did not have access to suitable protective clothing such as gloves or boots, despite many hand car washes typically requiring their workers to use potentially harmful chemicals such as hydrochloric acid.

A large majority of responses, 80%, said that the car wash had a cash only policy. Nearly one in 10, or 8%, of reports logged that minors were working on site, and 17% of users identified fearful workers.

The app asked drivers to look out for nearby caravans, containers, mattresses and bedding as evidence of workers living on site. A total of 14% of reports indicate that users saw those signs as they reported that workers were living on the car wash site.

The findings show 126 calls to the Modern Slavery Helpline were made through the app. This is disappointing, as it is only 18% of those who were asked to call. However, users of the app are urged to make sure that they are in a safe place before calling so it may be that they chose to report their concerns to the helpline when back at home. During this period, the Modern Slavery Helpline received 335 calls about modern slavery in hand car washes, though not all will be directly attributable to the Safe Car Wash App.

Outside the scope of this report, it has been encouraging to hear from colleagues in law enforcement, including Cleveland Police and Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, that the data from the Safe Car Wash app has been a useful addition to their intelligence picture.

Now that we know the data from the app provides valuable insight, we are even more determined to get more and more people downloading and using the Safe Car Wash app. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, just search ‘Safe Car Wash’ on your app store.

You can take a look at the full report here.

Photo by Viktor Talashuk on Unsplash