Northamptonshire Police has visited a number of car washes in the county as part of a crackdown on modern day slavery and human trafficking this week.
Officers visited businesses in Northampton, Daventry, Wellingborough, Finedon, Rushden, Kettering and Corby and spoke to employees to assess their working and living conditions while giving them an opportunity to disclose any offences or incidents of forced labour or exploitation.
Police, including a Romanian officer, worked alongside interpreters and the charity ‘Hope for Justice’ which exists to end human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
There were no disclosures from anybody claiming to be exploited but five people were arrested for immigration offences.
A police spokesman said officers were keen to stress this is part of a long-term, ongoing operation to gain the trust and confidence of foreign workers.
Car washes were targeted this week as they traditionally attract foreign labour and wages are often as low as £30 for a 10-hour day.
The high-impact days are part of ongoing police activity which includes massage parlours and nail bars, which have been known to employ trafficked workers. Officers are already talking to the owners of massage parlours to rule out the possibility of any child safeguarding concerns.
Detective Sergeant Ash Turner led this week’s operation. He said: “The work this week has been a big success.
“We have spoken to a large number of workers and have given them information in their own language, signposting them to help and support and providing them with an exit strategy if they ever feel they need one.
“We have also given business owners a very clear message that we are looking closely at human trafficking and exploitation and we are working alongside partner agencies to eliminate it.
“This is very much work in progress and it will take time to build trust within these communities.”
Anybody with any concerns around human trafficking or exploitation is asked to contact police on 101, Hope for Justice on 0845 519 7402 or the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700.