A 24-year-old Romanian man has been arrested by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) following an operation at two hand car washes in the Barnsley area.
The GLAA supported by partner agencies carried out simultaneous raids at the car washes on the morning of Thursday 4 October.
The suspect, who was questioned over alleged modern slavery offences, has been released under investigation pending further enquiries.
Two Romanian men have entered the government’s National Referral Mechanism, a process which ensures potential victims of modern slavery and labour exploitation are given help and support.
The potential victims said that their ID cards and mobile phones had been withheld at different points, and that they had suffered burns to their hands and arms through not having the appropriate protective equipment when cleaning vehicles.
Several workers at both hand car washes were interviewed on site about their working and living conditions.
GLAA officers also seized mobile phones, CCTV footage from the car washes.
The operation was supported by officers from South Yorkshire Police, HMRC and Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.
Leading the operation was GLAA investigating officer Steve Brookes. He said: “Modern slavery and exploitation occurs across the labour market but is perhaps most noticeable to the public in businesses such as hand car washes, which are visible and widely used.
“We would encourage people to report their suspicions to us and be aware of the signs of exploitation at these car washes. Are the workers wearing protective equipment? Is their clothing appropriate for the time of year? Are they unable to speak English and looking nervous? These are just a few of the signs of exploitation.”
Anyone with concerns about potential modern slavery and labour exploitation offences at hand car washes can report them to the GLAA directly, by calling its intelligence team on 0800 4320804 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.