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Human Trafficking

More than 900 reports of potential modern slavery cases at hand car washes

11 April 2019

A pioneering app designed by the Church of England has been used to report nearly 1,000 potential modern slavery cases at car washes, one year on from when it was introduced.

The Safe Car Wash app allows drivers to respond to a check list of key indicators of modern slavery or labour exploitation at hand car washes and the app then tells you whether the answers you gave suggest modern slavery is taking place. If it is a suspected case, users are asked to contact the Modern Slavery Helpline, and the findings (which are anonymous) are then shared with the police.

Since it was launched by the CofE and the Catholic Church of England and Wales last year, it’s been downloaded 8,225 times.

930 suspected modern slavery cases

According to recently released figures, between June and December 2018, there were 2,271 completed entries with 41%, or 930 reports where users were told that after completing the check list there was a likelihood of modern slavery at the hand car wash.

The University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab analysed the results in a new policy report which suggested that in half of the reports (48%), the workers did not have access to suitable protective clothing such as gloves or boots. This is a dangerous oversight given the fact that many hand car washes usually ask their workers to use potentially harmful chemicals like hydrochloric acid.

Scale of the problem

The challenge of modern slavery here in the UK is greater than many realise. There are thought to be as many as 136,000 people in modern slavery here in the UK. Globally the figure is estimated to be more than 40 million.

What is CARE doing?

We have worked on the issue of modern slavery for more than a decade, working with politicians at all of the UK's Parliaments and Assemblies to make sure our existing laws are fit for purpose.

One vital campaign we are involved in, along with our other work in this area, is the Free for Good campaign which wants to see the guaranteed level of support given to modern slavery victims across England and Wales extended to a full 12 months. CARE supports Lord McColl's Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill which would give victims the 12 months we and many other groups and individuals think they need.

Find out more

Download The Safe Car Wash app here

Find out more about all the policy work CARE has done to address modern slavery in the UK

Our latest modern slavery news can be found here

Image credit: Photograph: Richard Pohle/The Times

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