The Church of England’s Safe Car Wash app designed to identify possible cases of modern-day slavery has triggered nearly 1,000 reports in five months.

The app helps identify cases of car wash workers who appear to be fearful, lacking protective clothing, and living on site, all signs that they may be held in conditions of slavery.

Government estimates suggest there are 10,000 victims of human slavery, with people forced to work for little or no pay in a variety of industries, including car washes.

According to the National Crime Agency, car washes are a high-risk business in which exploitation is prevalent. It says the church’s mobile phone app is yielding further insights into the problem.

In the six months since it was launched in June 2018, 2,271 completed entries came through the app. The Clewer Trust, which operates the project, runs a helpline connected to the app, although only a small number of people make a call.

But the app yields important information, in particular a high incidence of workers who lack protective clothing (48% of the comments).

The Clewer Trust says the most common forms of modern-day slavery are sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, and organ harvesting.

John Martin

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