Modern slavery is hidden in plain sight on our high streets. The National Crime Agency thinks there are tens of thousands of people being exploited in the UK, forced to work long hours, for little or no pay, and under threat of violence.
Some of those people are being exploited in hand car washes, which in recent years have sprung up across the country in their thousands. Many of those 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.
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, becoming more enmeshed in the cycle of exploitation.
We have spoken to the police, the National Crime Agency and the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority about how the church can help them solve this and bring these hidden victims into the light.
The SAFE CAR WASH APP
The Safe Car Wash app has been developed to allow the general public to engage with the problem, it 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 and then 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 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.