Car washes were among businesses targeted during a four-day operation to tackle modern slavery in Cornwall.

The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) worked with a range of partners in East and West Cornwall to prevent and identify exploitation of vulnerable workers.

Between Tuesday and Friday (6 - 9 March), unannounced visits were made to a range of businesses including eight car washes.

The investigators found issues at the car washes including the non-payment of the minimum wage to workers, not having personal protective clothing and other health and safety concerns. Two people were found to not have rights to work in the UK.

The visits were part of an annual operation organised by the Cornwall Migrant Workers Action Group (MIGWAG), of which the GLAA is a member.

The operation sought to prevent the exploitation of workers, as well as uncover modern slavery, human trafficking and health and safety offences.

A range of agencies were involved, including Devon and Cornwall Police, Cornwall Council, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, the Health and Safety Executive and UK Immigration Compliance and Enforcement, HM Revenue and Customs, the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate and Network Rail.

Investigating officer Martin Jones, who led the operation for the GLAA, said: “Operations like this are crucial if we are to uncover the exploitation and abuse of workers happening throughout the UK right now. And we can’t do this alone; the GLAA works side by side with partners in all fields, who share our commitment and dedication in preventing and identifying modern slavery and exploitation.

“I was pleased to see that, at one particular site where issues were uncovered last year, measures had been taken to improve conditions for workers. Only by maintaining pressure on businesses to be aware of their obligations to treat workers fairly can we put an end to slavery for good.”