GLAA targets Nottingham hand car wash businesses as it publishes its three-year plan

Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA)-led operations across Nottingham have uncovered a number of possible modern slavery offences, according to the GLAA.

The possible offences came to light during visits to four hand car wash businesses in the city on Tuesday. A worker suspected of being a victim of modern slavery was taken into care by the authorities, while investigations are continuing into possible modern slavery offences, as well as breaches of tax, National Minimum Wage and health & safety legislation.

GLAA senior investigating officer Dave Powell said: “Hand car washes have been highlighted as a major area of concern by the GLAA and a number of our partner agencies. Sadly, that analysis is proving to be correct.

“We’ve carried out a number of car wash visits recently and it is rare that we find one that is without issues.”

These latest actions come as the GLAA today published its three-year plan, setting out its approach to what Prime Minister Theresa May has called ‘the greatest human rights issue of our time’. Home Office estimates put the number of slaves in the UK between 10-13,000, though the true figure could be even higher.

In its three-year plan, the GLAA says its over-arching aim is “working in partnership to protect vulnerable and exploited workers”.

This will be done by: 
•    preventing workers from being exploited in the first place
•    protecting vulnerable people and potential victims so they are less likely to be exploited
•    pursuing relentlessly, disrupting and prosecuting those who engage in the exploitation of workers

GLAA CEO Paul Broadbent said: “We now have the capability and an increase in resources to go after those unscrupulous and very often ruthless individuals, who exploit others for their work either financially, physically or through coercion and control. It is abhorrent and has no place in modern society.

“Our plan demonstrates a firm commitment and outlines a simple, yet effective, strategy for tackling the issue of labour exploitation and modern slavery across the UK economy. We will work closely with the police and other enforcement agencies such as the National Crime Agency, HMRC and Employment Agency Standards officers.

“But we will also reach out to businesses, employers and the public, because through raising awareness and educating people about labour exploitation, we can make real inroads into eradicating these despicable practices.”

The GLAA currently has 150 ongoing investigations, more than 70 of them criminal. The authority has protected hundreds of workers through refusal or revocations of licences and dealt with more than 400 workers subjected to exploitation or abuse.

See yesterday’s story on the GLAA’s film encouraging employers and employees to Do the Right Thing.

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