A campaign by the Scottish Government against human trafficking and modern slavery is highlighting that many unscrupulous hand car wash operations are involved.
In Aberdeen this week screen cleans were offered at the city’s Golden Square Car Park as part of the campaign to draw attention to the different industries in which potential cases of human trafficking have been reported.
A car wash was set up with staff washing a car windscreen with sponges emblazoned with the word “help” – and they also used bubbles to spell out “help”’ out on the windscreen – a word which is synonymous with human trafficking.
Aberdeen was recently named as one of the 27 locations in Scotland where victims of human trafficking have been identified in Scotland in the past five years – and the campaign took to the streets in a bid to encourage people to recognise the signs and report any concerns they may have.
Latest figures show there were 150 potential victims of trafficking identified in Scotland in 2016 – a 52% increase since 2013.
Recent research reveals that 70% of people surveyed believe that human trafficking relates to sexual exploitation – however the campaign is aiming to change perceptions and highlight forced labour can happen in a range of industries including nail bars, car washes, construction and fisheries.
The campaign is being backed by organisations including Police Scotland, Migrant Help and Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA) who are working collaboratively to support victims of human trafficking and target those who control, abuse and exploit others.
The agencies have highlighted some of the signs of human trafficking can include workers being withdrawn, scared and not willing to talk, with an appearance of being unkempt, badly nourished, or appearing to be controlled by another person.
Cabinet secretary for justice Michael Matheson said: “Human trafficking is a complex crime which involves adults and children being traded and exploited for personal benefit. It is an abuse of human rights which causes victims lasting physical and psychological damage.
“We want to make people aware of the different industries in which human trafficking can happen so we can start to effectively tackle this crime and stop this abhorrent abuse of human rights.
“I would encourage anyone who has concerns to report them to help bring human trafficking to an end in Scotland.”
For information on the signs of human trafficking and to report concerns visit modernslaveryhelpline.org/scotland