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Intelligence gathering

7th April 2022 | Hand Car Wash

What happens when a consumer flags up concerns at a car wash?

The Clewer Initiative

Reports from the Safe Car Wash app are sent through to the Modern Slavery Helpline. But what do they do with the information?

Justine photo

We spoke to Justine Currell, the Executive Director of Unseen and the Modern Slavery Helpline to find out more.

1. How is intelligence gathered via the Safe Car Wash App assessed and processed by the Modern Slavery Helpline team?

Any reports that meet a certain threshold can be anonymously sent through to the Modern Slavery Helpline via the Safe Car Wash app. Once we receive these reports, our specialist teams review the information. This is their bread and butter, their daily work, so they are used to working through the data, identifying further questions and knowing who to forward concerns to. Sometimes this might involve calling a person back (if they have provided their details) for further information or clarification. For example, saying that the “people looked sad” is probably not sufficient to alert the statutory authorities. Digging deeper to understand what a consumer has noticed can help us assess the risk.

If labour abuse is suspected, information about the car wash will be forwarded to the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) for them to follow up. If a criminal act, like modern slavery, is suspected we will forward information to the Police. Often we forward the data to both organisations so that they can work together.

2. How has the Modern Slavery Helpline worked with The Clewer Initiative on the revisions to the app?

We worked closely with The Clewer Initiative on what data to capture, the right questions to ask and what the threshold should be to trigger a report. It was important that we set the threshold at the right level so that if certain signs of exploitation or modern slavery were present it would be flagged up immediately.

3. From the perspective of the Modern Slavery Helpline, why is the Safe Car Wash App an important tool?

We have just released our annual assessment of the calls we received in 2021 and car wash businesses are still one of the main areas of concern for labour exploitation and abuse. In 2021, we raised 45 modern slavery cases relating to car washes, indicating 154 potential victims and 112 labour abuse cases.

We know exploitation in car washes is still a problem. We know what the Police and GLAA are seeing. We know what to do with reports. We just need communities to be our eyes and ears and report what they see. Unfortunately, there is limited knowledge and understanding of the issue and therefore any tool that helps to inform and equip the general public is brilliant.


Why get involved?

We need you to help make sure hand car washes in the UK are safe for everyone.

By each of us doing a small thing, we can help make a massive difference. Victims of modern slavery are real people - just like every one of us, but they are trapped in exploitation, living under threat of violence and have nowhere to turn.

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