Lincoln Magistrates’ Court has handed the owners of a car wash a Slavery and Trafficking Risk Order (STRO) lasting for seven years.
The hearing followed a joint investigation by Lincolnshire Police and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), and it is the second STRO served on a car wash business in Lincolnshire in recent months.
Shorsh Ismail Hashmi, aged 34, and Humar Hamadamin Mustafa, aged 36, both of Mill Road in Boston, must follow the conditions set out in the order or they face a jail term.
The order, given to the men on August 10, relates to Diamond Hand Car Wash, High Green, Swineshead, Boston.
The officer in charge of the investigation, PC Tamzin Hurley-Roe, said: “This is the culmination of a lot of hard work, and we are very grateful to our partners whose support and assistance was paramount to securing Lincolnshire’s second STRO. It’s a privilege to work together to make a difference for people and make our county a safer place for them.
“The car wash has been attended by agencies a number of times and on four occasions, a total of five people have been found working who had no permission to work in the UK due to their immigration status.
“These were all vulnerable people with no money, no way to fund their existence and suspected to have been sleeping on site at the car wash. People have been working long hours for little or no wages and not able to provide convincing accounts as to how they have come to be at the car wash.
“They would be very unlikely to ask for any help from any authorities due to their status and are in a very vulnerable position. Despite repeated engagement the working practices have not changed, and they continued to exploit workers. Several of the legitimate workers on site also disclosed that they were being paid below minimum wage.”
Boston area inspector Colin Clarkson said: “The message across the county is strong and clear. Slavery and trafficking will not be tolerated. This order is a promising step forward in protecting vulnerable people from potential exploitation and a deterrent to anyone who thinks they are above the law. This is also an opportunity to highlight the issue. Sadly, exploitation happens here as it does across the UK, and we would encourage anyone who suspects that workers are being exploited to be their voice and report it.”
GLAA investigating officer Dale Walker said: “We have now worked closely with Lincolnshire Police on securing Slavery and Trafficking Risk Orders at two hand car washes in Lincolnshire in recent months.
“The orders are crucial in protecting vulnerable workers from exploitation and acting as a deterrent to criminal behaviour by imposing strict restrictions on those we suspect are at risk of committing slavery or trafficking offences.
“We will actively police the order and will not hesitate to take further action if we identify any breaches.”
The order comes as a result of a wider piece of work in Lincolnshire. As well as the GLAA, Trading Standards and Immigration Enforcement also joined us in visits to high-risk sector businesses such as car washes and nail bars to engage with potentially vulnerable workers. The work is also supported by Boston Borough Council and Lincs Fire and Rescue.
The court was satisfied that the defendants acted in a way which means that there is a risk they will commit a slavery or human trafficking offence and that the order was necessary for the purpose of protecting people from physical or psychological harm.
The order specifies that the two named defendants must abide by the following:
- must not have anyone sleep at their address or any other address they control who is employed by him or works for him (whether on a paid or voluntary basis);
- must not recruit people with no legal status to work in the UK;
- must not employ any worker who does not have a valid National Insurance Number;
- must not employ or have anyone working on this or any other site unless there are full written records of all employees and their employment and provide these immediately on request by a representative of the chief constable or Gangmasters Labour Abuse Agency (GLAA);
- must not employ or have anyone working on this or any site controlled by him unless the same are provided with wage slips and contracts;
- must not employ or have anyone working on this or any site controlled by him unless the same are paid at least the National Minimum Wage;
- must not refuse admittance to officers of the GLAA during trading hours in order to inspect conditions, documents and speak with employees;
- must not fail to register any company with Companies House and pay business rates (unless exempt) to the local authority;
- must not fail to pay tax and national insurance;
- must not arrange or facilitate accommodation for persons working (whether on a paid or voluntary basis) at Diamond Hand Car Wash or any other car wash or any other business owned or managed by him.