Norfolk hand car washes investigated for illegal activity

4:31 PM March 19, 2022

Car washes across Norfolk are being investigated over fears staff are being exploited.

Norfolk Police is working with the Responsible Car Wash Scheme (RCWS) to clamp down on illegal car washes.

The hand car wash sector has been identified as an industry where workers are at risk of exploitation, ranging from poor working conditions to modern day slavery.

Sites in Norwich, King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth are potentially breaking business, environmental and employment laws, according to Norfolk Police.

The RCWS visited the sites to learn the extent of non-compliance and to inform the business owners of their obligations.

Its report also found many operate from unsuitable premises that discharge dangerous waste and staff are given ineffective protective equipment when handling dangerous and corrosive cleaning supplies.

RCWS also found legitimate businesses often have their prices undercut by those breaking the law.

Detective Inspector Andy Hill from Norfolk Police said: “We are very pleased to have the opportunity to conduct joint visits with the Responsible Car Wash Scheme in Norfolk.

“It’s code of conduct clearly lays out the responsibilities of car wash businesses and we are working together to ensure car washes comply with those standards or face being closed down.”

Teresa Sayers, managing director, RCWS says: “Having visited the sites it is evident that there are serious breaches of regulations taking place and standards urgently need to be improved.

“We ask car owners and drivers to choose responsible car washes that offer a fair wash. That means ones that look after their workers, protect the environment, care for their customers and trade legally.”

Potential indicators of worker exploitation include car washes being low cost and lack of protective equipment and clothing being used by workers.

The Safe Car Wash app asks a series of questions related to signs of modern slavery and helps users know if they should report a car wash to the Modern Slavery Helpline.

Other industries in which there may be modern slavery include factories and farms, restaurants and fast food outlets, domestic service and hospitality, construction and nail bars.

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