Detectives from the PSNI's Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit shut a NI car wash.
Acting with colleagues from the Neighbourhood Policing Team and partners in HMRC, the Health and Safety Executive for NI (HSENI) and the Department for Communities carried out a multi-agency operation at a hand car wash in the Portadown area on Wednesday 18 December.
As a result of the proactive operation, the car wash was temporarily closed by the HSENI in order for necessary work to be undertaken.
Detective Inspector Mark Bell from PSNI’s MSHTU said: “We regularly conduct these operations as a result of information received from the public, raising concerns about potential human trafficking at the car wash.
“There is no doubt that many of these hand car washes are being run as legitimate businesses, working ethically and responsibly and doing their best to comply with all the regulations.
“However in some of these hand car washes, workers have told us they are being paid between £10 and £60 per day for carrying out this work in the cold.
“Whilst there was no evidence of human trafficking or modern slavery offences at the hand car wash that we visited today, we need the public to continue to report any concerns that they might have to us.”
Some of the signs and indicators of people potentially being subjected to exploitation in hand car washes to look out for include:
Workers not appropriately dressed or kitted out with protective equipment for these weather conditions
Electricity being bypassed at a car wash from a public electrical post
Evidence of workers living on site at the car wash
Someone working who appears to be under the strict control of others
Houses of multiple occupancy, for example 15- 20 people living in a three bedroom house who are being transported to and from a car wash.
“Whilst it is important to note that the presence of one or two of these signs and indicators in isolation does not necessarily mean that the people involved are victims of trafficking or being forced to work against their will, it is best to let the appropriate authorities make that decision so I continue to encourage the public to report any concerns to PSNI on 101.”
The PSNI did not reveal which car wash was temporarily closed on Wednesday.