Police shut down a North East car wash due to links to modern day slavery

The multi-agency operation focused on concerns over staff welfare and working conditions.

Monday, 22nd July 2019, 10:52 am
Updated Monday, 22nd July 2019, 1:28 pm
The investigation included looking at unsafe working environments

On Wednesday, July 17 2019, Northumbria Police assisted officers from the North East Regional Specialist Operations Unit (NERSOU) and a host of other partners during a visit to a car wash in the centre of Gateshead which police have not named.

Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) closed the business over safety issues and the accommodation above the business was also issued with a prohibition order by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.

The occupants of the flat were offered alternative accommodation and will be able to return once authorities are satisfied they are no longer at risk.

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Residents had to be removed from the property due to inadequate fire safety

Kevin Benson, Gain Coordinator at NERSOU was leading the operation and said it was very important the public recognise the signs of exploitation when out and about in the community.

He said: “We always ask members of the public to help us and be our eyes and ears in the community because we can’t always be around to see what is going on.

“If you see something you think is suspicious, or you have concerns about someone’s welfare or the conditions they are living and working in, we would encourage you to report these to police, local authorities and other statutory bodies.

“With visits like this, our main aim is to protect vulnerable people from exploitation, under the banner of Operation Sentinel, our initiative to tackle and disrupt organised crime. While fighting crime is a priority for us, we are also committed to helping those in need.”

Richie Rickaby, Head of Fire safety, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue service commented: “Our Fire Safety Team only serve Prohibition Notices as a last resort, only when there is a possibility of death or serious injury.

“On this occasion we discovered that the fire detection was inadequate, and there was a clear lack of fire separation between the sleeping and commercial areas of the building.”

You can report modern day slavery on a dedicated helpline 0800 0121 700 or Crime stoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.