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Putting an end to modern slavery at hand car washes

1st March 2022 | Hand Car Wash

The Clewer Initiative

There are thousands of hand car washes in the United Kingdom. While many of these businesses treat and pay their staff fairly, some are run by unscrupulous people, determined to make as much money as possible, regardless of how their workers are treated or whether they are following the law. The people working at these car washes may be victims of modern slavery and exploitation. In some cases, staff may be underaged, live onsite in poor conditions, be paid very low wages, have little or no personal protective equipment, and face a variety of other unsafe, unfair, and controlling practices on a daily basis.

Since June 2018, The Clewer Initiative’s Safe Car Wash app has been helping charities and law enforcement agencies to identify hand car washes around the country which might not be treating their staff fairly. After more than 30,000 downloads and 7,500 reports from across the United Kingdom, The Clewer Initiative has redeveloped the app, adding new functionality, updating the content, increasing reporting options, and improving the usability of the data for our partners. These enhancements will help users to more easily report exploitative car washes, identify potential victims of modern slavery, and give partner organisations the information and data required to address criminal activity and help those in need.

“It is vital we educate consumers on the importance of choosing responsible car washes that look after their workers, protect the environment, care for their customers and trade legally. The Safe Car Wash app is good news for the entire car wash industry because it will help pinpoint and hopefully eliminate businesses that are exploiting workers."

Caroline Virgo, Director of The Clewer Initiative

The redeveloped Safe Car Wash app is live across all major app stores now. New features include:

  • An improved user interface, so it is easier to submit a report
  • No requirement to submit any personal information before filing a report
  • All new location functions, meaning you can pinpoint the exact location of the car wash on a map and confirm the precise street address and postcode
  • The ability to send an anonymous report straight to the Modern Slavery Helpline at the click of a button, if your report scores above the threshold of concern for modern slavery and exploitation – no need to call
  • Updated questions and content, so the data is more accurate than ever
  • A new and easy to use back-end data website for data partners to access, helping them respond to car washes of concern.

Caroline Virgo, Director of The Clewer Initiative, explains: “The Safe Car Wash app is easy to use – it asks a series of questions related to signs of modern slavery and if it reaches a threshold that suggests workers are not being treated appropriately, it will invite the user to send a report through to the Modern Slavery Helpline for further investigation. We would urge car owners and drivers to download the new version of the app today.”

The app has already helped unearth situations of exploitative work. Thanks to data submitted by users, law enforcement have been able to respond to car washes run by gangs who exploit their workers. By downloading the Safe Car Wash app, visiting a hand car wash, and submitting a report, you can help charities and law enforcement agencies free victims of modern slavery and exploitation. Download the app today!

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