Crawley car wash owner given Slavery and Trafficking Risk Order
Police have have obtained a Slavery and Trafficking Risk Order (STRO) against a Crawley car wash owner.
On Wednesday September 22, the STRO was issued at Brighton Magistrates Court to Saman Ahmed, prohibiting him for five years from a range of activities, including arranging travel or accomodation for anyone else, holding anyone else's identification or banking documents and cards, advertising for any employment vacancies, or allowing anyone to sleep at Express Car Wash in London Road, Crawley.
He must also keep up to date and accurate employee records. Failure to comply with the Order will make Ahmed liable to imprisonment.
Sussex Police said, in April this year, local officers went to the car wash as part of an investigation into alleged fraud, modern slavery and health and safety offences.
They were accompanied by colleagues from the force's 'Discovery' team which specialises in modern slavery investigation, representatives from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Home Office Immigration Enforcement (IE), West Sussex Fire & Rescue (WSFRS), the Dept of Work & Pensions (DWP), and the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA)
Sussex Police said a number of people working there were interviewed about working conditions. One of them was found to be illegally in the country, and the case was referred to the IE investigators. As a result the car wash owner was issued with a £10,000 civil penalty for employing him.
Fire officers served a Notice to prohibit the premises from being used for sleeping accomodation and HSE served a Notice prohibiting use of electricity in indoor parts of the site.
The police also said DWP investigators were looking into reports of possible benefit fraud offences.
Sergeant 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 added: “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.”
The Discovery team, based in East Sussex, brings together local police officers, fire officers, Stop the Traffik Hastings, King's Church and staff from Hastings and Rother Councils, and national agencies, with the aim of seeing victims of modern slavery rescued and supported, and perpetrators brought to justice.
For advice and information on spotting signs of modern slavery and how to report it see the Sussex Police website.