Modern slavery is hidden in plain sight

The Diocese of Liverpool is working with the Clewer Initiative to challenge modern slavery and human trafficking practices.

One way you can participate in this work is to download the Clewer carwash app to find out where you can find a local business that is free from modern slavery practices. 

Rev Canon Dr Ellen Loudon ,Director of Social Justice and Canon Chancellor, sits on the Liverpool City Region Serious Organised Crime Strategy Group – this group gathers together boarder agency, police, intelligence officers, social and youth services, the fire service and other key agencies to attempt to share information and find a holistic way of tackling serious organised crime. Canon Ellen says: “one of our key areas for action is the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking in the region. The statistics are frightening and our response must be to be better organised than the people traffickers and criminal gangs. You can help play your part in irradiating this despicable crime.  Please look at the Clewer Initiative website to see what you can do and keep an eye out for the signs of human trafficking in your community.”

Could you be the next Anti Trafficking Coordinator? if you want to talk to Canon Ellen about how you might get involved in this work please do get in touch -

More than 900 reports of potential modern slavery in hand car washes recorded through app
Drivers using a pioneering app to gather information on modern slavery in hand car washes made more than 900 reports of potential cases over a five-month period, according to research published today.

The Safe Car Wash app, which allows drivers to respond to a check list of key factors that may suggest modern slavery or labour exploitation in hand car washes, has been downloaded 8,225 times since its launch by the Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales last year.

Between June and December 2018 there were 2271 completed entries using the app, with 41 per cent, or 930 reports, where after responding to a number of questions, users were told there was a likelihood of modern slavery at the hand car wash. They were then asked to call the Modern Slavery Helpline and their findings were shared in real time with police and the Gangmasters’ and Labour Abuse Authority.

Analysis by the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab in a new policy report released today showed that nearly half of reports, or 48 per cent, commented that workers did not have access to suitable protective clothing such as gloves or boots, despite many hand car washes typically requiring their workers to use potentially harmful chemicals such as hydrochloric acid.

A large majority of responses, 80 per cent, said that the car wash had a cash only policy. Nearly one in 10, or 8 per cent, of reports logged that children were working on site, and 17 per cent of users identified fearful workers.

The app asked drivers to look out for nearby caravans, containers, mattresses and bedding as evidence of workers living on site. A total of 14 per cent of reports suggested that workers were living on the car wash site.

The app was launched last year by The Clewer Initiative, the Church of England’s campaign against modern slavery, and the Santa Marta Group, the Catholic Church’s anti-slavery project, with support from anti-slavery campaigners and other key agencies, including the police and councils.

Bishop Alastair Redfern, Chair of The Clewer Initiative, said: “This research from the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab shows that the Safe Car Wash app has made an excellent start towards mapping the extent of modern slavery and labour exploitation in hand car washes, and, crucially raising public awareness of this issue.

“Sadly, the findings so far confirm what we already feared - that many car washes do not protect their workers.

“Our conversations with colleagues from law enforcement suggest that the data from the Safe Car Wash app is providing another piece in the puzzle of how to combat this complex crime. We hope to continue to build on this progress.”

Bishop Patrick Lynch, from the Santa Marta Group, said: “I welcome this report into the results of the Safe Car Wash app. I hope the app and this report will help many people become much more aware of the exploitation that workers in the car washing sector often have to endure.”

Dr Akilah Jardine, Research Associate at the Rights Lab, said: “Investigations and operations on hand car wash activities have identified the sector as a high-risk area for labour exploitation. Though often operating in plain sight, a great challenge in tackling abuses is the lack of data on the size and scope of the industry and the nature and prevalence of labour exploitation.

“The Safe Car Wash app shows the potential value of using technology in raising public awareness and leveraging the real life experience and insight of the community to improve our understanding of the sector and also gather the intelligence required to lead effective investigations.”

News & Events

Find out more

Full Job Summary for the ​Liverpool Diocese Anti-Trafficking Project Co-ordinator here.

If you’re interested in applying for the role  please contact
Rev Canon Dr Ellen Loudon
Director of Social Justice & Canon Chancellor
Diocese of Liverpool