A scathing report by NewStatesman.com said UK car washes are second only to brothels when it comes to sex trafficking crimes in that country. An article posted this month shows that of the 20,000 hand car washes in the UK, an estimated 1,000 are regulated. The lack of regulation makes it easy for sex trafficking crimes to take place, unnoticed. But the conditions are also ripe for all types of labor violations, experts said.
“There are a few car washes that employ British workers but a vast majority of hand car washes employ newly arrived immigrants,” said Dawn Frazer, managing director of the Car Wash Advisory Service. “This is how some owners are able to offer such low prices, by taking advantage of vulnerable people.”
“Everything bad you can think of with the British labor force is present at a car wash. Slavery, low wages, debt bondage, tax evasion, exploitation. It’s all there.” — Dawn Frazer
Police in Manchester raided 29 car washes in the span of one week, netting four arrests. A handful of sex trafficking victims were taken from the scene. Investigators said victims in sex trafficking cases are often promised jobs in exchange for transport to the country. Once they’ve arrived, they’re overworked and given poor living conditions. But victims are leery of police and don’t often report the crimes committed against them because many are in the country illegally.