Crawley car wash owner handed slavery and trafficking order

A CAR wash owner has been handed a slavery and trafficking order.

Saman Ahmed, the owner of Express Car Wash in Crawley, was issued a slavery and trafficking risk order (STRO) at Brighton Magistrates Court on September 22.

The order prohibits him from arranging travel or accommodation for anyone, holding anyone’s identification or banking documents and cards, advertising for employment vacancies and allowing anyone to sleep at the London Road site for five years.

He must also keep up to date and accurate employee records.

Failure to comply with the order will make Ahmed liable to imprisonment.

The Argus: The kitchen area of the Express Car Wash in Crawley

The kitchen area of the Express Car Wash in Crawley

The order was given to Ahmed after Sussex Police conducted an investigation into alleged fraud, modern slavery and health and safety offences at the car wash in April last year.

Numerous employees were interviewed about working conditions and one of them was found to be illegally in the country. The case was referred to Home Office immigration enforcement investigators.

As a result, the car wash owner was issued with a £10,000 civil penalty for employing him.

The Argus: The bedroom area of the Express Car Wash in CrawleyThe bedroom area of the Express Car Wash in Crawley

The investigation was a collaborative effort between the force’s discovery team, which specialises in modern slavery investigation, Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Home Office, West Sussex Fire and Rescue, the Department of Work and Pensions and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.

Fire officers served a notice to prohibit the premises from being used for sleeping accommodation, while HSE served a notice prohibiting use of electricity in indoor parts of the site.

Inspector Steve Turner, of the Crawley Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We continue to work with our enforcement partners to act on intelligence about any signs that vulnerable workers are being exploited over their conditions of employment and accommodation in Sussex.”

GLAA Senior Investigating Officer Jen Baines said: “STROs are a valuable tool for law enforcement in tackling potential modern slavery offences and we were pleased to support our partners at Sussex Police in securing this order for the next five years.”

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