HAND car washes in Warrington were targeted by police as part of an initiative to protect those who could be at risk of modern slavery.
Officers from Warrington’s Hidden Harm Team along with partner agencies – including Warrington Borough Council and Immigration– visited three premises earlier this week to identify potential victims.
Throughout the day premises were thoroughly checked to ensure they are adhering to all aspects of employment, environmental and health and safety checks.
The operation identified a 20-year-old man as being a potential victim and he was taken to a place of safety.
Two men were served a referral notice by immigration in relation to working illegally at the premises.
The activity came as part of a national week of action to safeguard vulnerable adults.
Detective Constable Danielle Fildes, of the Hidden Harm Team, said: “Although we regularly undertake these operations it is an opportunity to highlight how we carry out checks in order to identify anyone who may be at risk of modern slavery and that the standard of conditions are within the law.
“Working alongside our partners we were able to engage with those who worked at the car washes and identify a man who we believe may be a victim of modern slavery. He has now been taken away from the premises and to a place of safety.
“It is extremely sad slavery still exists with vulnerable people being coerced into a range of exploitation such as trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude. This is a crime hidden within our communities with victims suffering in silence, often feeling alone and terrified.
“While we work with our partners to identify and safeguard those who are victims, the public can help play their part too by learning how to spot common signs.”
Information from the community, no matter how small, plays a vital part in tackling modern slavery.
Here are some of the common signs that may indicate that someone could be a victim of modern slavery:
• Appearance: Victims may show signs of physical or psychological abuse, look malnourished or unkempt or appear withdrawn.
• Isolation: Victims may rarely be allowed to travel on their own, seem under the control/influence of others, rarely interact or appear unfamiliar with their neighbourhood or where they work.
• Poor living conditions: Victims may be living in dirty, cramped or overcrowded accommodation, and may be working at the same address.
• Few or no personal effects: Victims may have no identification documents, have few personal possessions and wear the same clothes day in, day out. The clothes they do wear may not be suitable for their work.
• Unusual travel times: They may be dropped off/collected for work on a regular basis, either very early in the morning or late at night.
• Reluctant to seek help: Victims may avoid eye contact, appear frightened or hesitant to talk to strangers and fear law enforcers for many reasons, such as not knowing who to trust or where to get help and fear of deportation.
If you see something suspicious call Cheshire Constabulary on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Alternatively, you can contact the Hidden Harm Team by emailing warrington.hidden.harm.team.@cheshire.pnn.police.uk
For more information about modern day slavery visit https://www.cheshire.police.uk/advice-and-support/modern-slavery-and-human-trafficking