THREE SUSPECTED cases of modern slavery have been uncovered at car washes in Solihull.
A multi-agency inspection was launched last Friday and has continued through the week, investigating three different carwashes in the Shirley area.
After a second visit, one of the carwashes on Stratford Road was said to have a dangerous electrical system and no access to toilet facilities or appropriate safety equipment.
Workers confirmed that they were being paid around £4 an hour and they had to work between 8 and 10 hours a day.
So-called modern slavery can involve many different kinds of exploitation from compulsory labour to sexual exploitation, even human trafficking.
The Safer Solihull partnership tweeted: “One of the three car washes we visited and had concerns about has now closed.
“The @H_S_E (Health and Safety Executive) visited yesterday following a referral. We are continuing to work to resolve the concerns we identified at the two other sites regarding labour exploitation and modern slavery.
“Referrals have been made to multiple agencies. Please think about where you have your car washed. If you’re paying less than £6 chances are it’s funding slavery.”
The partnership enlisted the help of the Environment Agency and the HSE to investigate other issues with chemical storage and a lack of protective equipment when using such chemicals or working in low temperatures.
The West Midlands Fire Service Fire Safety team was also present to assess the risk of fire and electrical safety.
Sergeant Tim Evans from the Safer Solihull Partnership team said: “We are committed to making sure our communities can live and work in safe conditions and as part of our on-going work to identify and combat slave labour we are continually checking the businesses that run within our area.”
A Safer Solihull Partnership spokesperson added: “Modern slavery is a hidden crime which means it has a high potential to go undetected. However, we are committed to raising awareness of what modern slavery is, the signs to look out for and how people can report it.
“The Annual Strategic Assessment report was presented to the Safer Solihull Board last week and they agreed that modern slavery will be one of the Safer Solihull Partnership’s priorities for 2018-21.
“Modern slavery is a serious crime. If people have any suspicions of human trafficking, forced labour or worker exploitation they should report it immediately via 101 or 999 in an emergency.”
Police say enquiries into the issue remain on-going. Anyone with information can call police on 101.