Modern slavery is hidden in plain sight on our high streets. People are being forced to work long hours, for little or no pay, and under threat of violence in hand car washes.

Many hand car washes are legitimate businesses, but some of them are not. Police raids in hand car washes in towns and cities up and down the country have unearthed victims living in horrendous conditions.

Find out more: What is Modern Slavery?

the problem

Although law enforcement and the government are clear that this problem exists, there is no reliable data on just how widespread it is. This lack of information means that victims could be falling through the net.

We have spoken to the police, the National Crime Agency and the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority about how we can work together to help them solve this and bring these hidden victims into the light.

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what is modern slavery?


The Safe Car Wash app is a new tool that will enable the largest community intelligence gathering exercise ever attempted in the United Kingdom.

Download the free app onto your smartphone. When you are using a hand car wash, simply open the app and complete a short survey about the working conditions of the car wash.

The Experience

The app will ask a series of questions related to the indicators of modern slavery and if there is a high likelihood that modern slavery is occurring in the hand car wash, you will be asked to report your concerns to the Modern Slavery Helpline.

The data

The data the app collects will be anonymised and shared with the National Crime Agency and the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority, two law enforcement agencies who are leading on efforts to stamp out modern slavery across the UK.

How effective is the Safe Car Wash app?

Since launching the Safe Car Wash app in June 2018 we have received over 2000 reports and the app has been downloaded over 8000 times. Read more about what a difference the Safe Car Wash app is making on our blog.


It’s tempting to ignore this problem, leave it to the police to deal with. But we are talking about real people who are trapped in exploitation, living under the threat of violence, with nowhere to turn. We cannot be indifferent to the suffering around us and as the Church we cannot turn away from our neighbour who may be in need. Instead we must turn to them and say ‘we see you’. That’s why we need you to help make sure hand car washes in England are safe for everyone.

How can I get involved?

Why not talk to your church or community about whether you could host an event to promote the campaign? For example you could host a community car wash to raise awareness of the issue or dedicate your church service to learning about modern slavery. We've designed a series of free resources to help get you started.




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The Safe Car Wash app will help to engage the public in identifying car washes where slavery is suspected, and will also help law enforcement identify those people who may be at risk.
— Will Kerr, National Crime Agency
The Safe Car Wash App is a great way of utilising the technology available.
— Roger Bannister, Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority
This citizen engagement in data collection is a powerful technique with potential for mapping other vulnerable services
— Zoe Trodd, Rights Lab