Shining a light on hand car washes
An app that puts the spotlight on hand car washes gives the public a new tool to combat modern slavery
Hand car washes have sprung up across the country in their thousands, and while many are legitimate businesses, some are not. Police raids in hand car washes in towns and cities up and down the country have unearthed victims living in horrendous conditions.
The Safe Car Wash app has been developed to allow the general public to engage with the problem.
The app asks 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, users will be asked to report their concerns to the Modern Slavery Helpline.
The app has been developed by the Clewer Initiative, the Church of England’s response to modern slavery, and the Santa Marta Group, the Catholic Church’s anti-slavery project.
They have spoken to the police, the National Crime Agency and the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority about how the church can help – and the Safe Car Wash app, released on Monday (4 June), is one response.
Baptist church members have been invited to download the new app and take part in the first comprehensive intelligence gathering on car washes.
The National Crime Agency thinks there are tens of thousands of people being exploited in the UK, but there is no reliable data on just how widespread it is. This lack of information means victims could be falling through the net.
The Clewer Initiative, which has worked alongside Baptist churches to raise the awareness of modern slavery, stated, ‘It’s tempting to ignore this problem, leave it to the police to deal with. But the reality is we are talking about real people who are trapped in exploitation, perhaps living under the threat of violence, with nowhere to turn.
‘We cannot be indifferent to the suffering around us, in our own communities, 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.’
Steve Tinning, associate minister of Leigh Road Baptist Church, used the app this week amid concern at the many hand car washes that have sprung up in Southend. He wrote this review.
Visit www.theclewerinitiative.org/safecarwash for more details, including a range of promotional materials, graphics and prayers