Taxi drivers back campaign to eradicate modern slavery in hand car washes


London’s taxi drivers have given their backing to a new app aimed at eradicating modern slavery in the hand car wash industry.

The capital’s 10,000 black cab drivers, represented by the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, LTDA, are being encouraged to support the Safe Car Wash App, an unprecedented attempt to map the extent of slavery in hand car washes in London and across the country.

Steve McNamara, LTDA General Secretary, said: “London’s taxi drivers are the eyes and ears of the city, driving its streets multiple times a day.

“We want London to be a safe place to live, work and travel, free from crimes like modern slavery in hand car washes. We welcome the Safe Car Wash App and the potential it has to raise awareness of this abuse and help the police to tackle the problem.”

The app has been launched 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 amid concerns about slavery and exploitation in Britain’s 18,000 hand car washes.

Drivers can download the app for free on to Apple or Android devices. Users can open the app when they are at the car wash and pinpoint their exact location using GPS.

They will then be taken through a series of indicators of modern slavery. These range from practical details – such as whether workers have suitable protective clothing – to behavioural clues, such as whether they appear withdrawn. If the answers indicate a high likelihood, users will be directed to the Modern Slavery Helpline.

Data from the app will be anonymised and shared with the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA).

The support from taxi drivers in London comes as the Minister for Crime, Safeguarding, Vulnerability and Women, Victoria Atkins, gave her backing to the app.

She said: “The Government cannot tackle modern slavery alone, and collaboration with law enforcement agencies and local communities through faith groups such as The Clewer Initiative, is vital in helping us to crack down on those who seek to exploit vulnerable people.

 “The data that will be gathered from the Safe Car Wash App will prove invaluable to the National Crime Agency and the GLAA in building a more comprehensive intelligence picture of the scale of exploitation in hand car washes and will help to better target resources for operational activity.”

The app is backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols.

Other groups backing the app include Kevin Hyland, Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the Local Government Association.