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Car Wash Slavery


Did you know that in the UK hand car washes are one of the main industries where modern slavery is hidden in plain sight?


Over the last 10 years, there has been a huge increase in the number of hand car washes in the UK, often located on redundant petrol station forecourts, or in the car parks of closed-down pubs. It’s so easy to drive into these sites and sit nice and snug in your car, listening to the radio with a takeaway coffee, and never really notice the people cleaning it around you.

But latest estimates suggest that over 20,000 people are being exploited through these types of car washes, all over the country. (Source: The Clewer Initiative)

So, what are the indicators for car wash slavery?

- Is there a cash only policy? Are you given a receipt? Do you pay a manager directly?

- Does the price you pay seem “too good to be true” for the service you receive?

- Do the workers appear fearful? Are they happy to engage with you in a conversation?

- Do they have access to suitable clothing and PPE?

- Are there signs that workers are living on the car wash site, e.g., caravans?

- Is the site clean, tidy and well cared for?


The Clewer Initiative also have an app you can use - “Safe Car Wash”.


You use the app to register concerns about a car wash in your area, answering some simple questions about the car wash in question, and the app will tell you if you need to call the Modern Slavery Helpline.


Watch this short video from Bishop Alastair Redfern, Chair of The Clewer Initiative.



Every one of us can do our bit to identify modern slavery, and to contact the appropriate authorities when we do – Modern Slavery Helpline 08000 121 700.

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