The free ‘Safe Car Wash’ app allows people to quickly enter in details of a car wash and asks questions which may reveal those working there could be involved in modern slavery.
The information is made available to police who can respond to any issues where appropriate in order to safeguard and protect. The information may then inform part of ongoing investigations.
Latest figures from the app show that 13 people shared their observations about car washes in the Stockton area, 11 in the Middlesbrough area, three in Hartlepool and three in Redcar and Cleveland.
These observations do not necessarily mean crime is taking place but it does mean people are recognising the potential that modern slavery is happening in their area and are keen to take action against it.
Cleveland Police and Cleveland Anti-Slavery Network, which was established by Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger, support and promote the free ‘Safe Car Wash’ app.
Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: “I’m delighted that people are using the Safe Car Wash app to provide invaluable intelligence to Cleveland Police about people who may be involved in modern slavery.
“This is just one example of the fantastic progress being made by Cleveland Anti-Slavery Network, which I commissioned last year to bring agencies across the area together to bring an end to this barbaric practice and to develop pathways for vulnerable victims.
“I would urge anyone who regularly visits a car wash to take a moment to consider the welfare of those working there and report any suspicious behaviour via the Safe Car Wash app.”
Cleveland Police’s Detective Inspector Chris Stone said: “This app is another tool to help us prevent the exploitation of the most vulnerable in our communities.
“Modern slavery is a hidden problem because too often people are unaware of what to watch out for or concerned about misreporting.
“The app gives us important intelligence to help in our investigations. Any information, no matter how small could help us safeguard someone and keep them from harm.”
Users of the app are prompted to answer questions which could reveal those working in the car wash are victims of modern slavery.
This includes prompts about workers’ behaviour and appearance, such as if they seem fearful. Members of the public are also asked if workers are wearing protective gloves and suitable clothing.
People are also asked to enter details about how the car wash is run. This includes if the manager seems controlling and if minors appear to be working there.
It’s important people use the app when they’re at the car wash so it can log the location and to make sure they enter the car wash name. Concerns can be raised anonymously.
More information on the app is here: www.theclewerinitiative.org/safecarwash