January 26, 2023 11.30 am This story is over 10 months old

Arrest over slavery allegations after man ‘forced to live and work’ at Lincolnshire car wash

‘Kept there against his will’

A vulnerable Egyptian man in his late 20s, and potential modern slavery victim, claims he was ‘forced to live and work’ at a south Lincolnshire car wash for more than five years.

Supershine Hand Car Wash on Spalding Road in Gosberton near Spalding was raided by Lincolnshire Police and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) on Wednesday, January 25.

A 43-year-old British national was arrested on Wednesday morning on suspicion of forced or compulsory labour offences under the Modern Slavery Act. He has since been released under investigation after being questioned by the GLAA and police.

Supershine Hand Car Wash on Spalding Road in Gosberton near Spalding was raided by Lincolnshire Police and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA). | Screenshot: BBC Look North

The Egyptian man said he was ‘kept there against his will’ since 2017 and that he was directed to work there for little or no pay, and subjected to threats if he refused.

GLAA officers have helped rehome him in another part of the UK and has been accepted into the National Referral Mechanism. This is a framework for ensuring modern slavery victims are given the help that they need.

A man said he was ‘forced to live’ in what were visibily poor conditions. | Photo: GLAA

This comes after Lincolnshire Police were granted a five-year Slavery and Trafficking Risk Order against Sherwan Sahdi, aged 36, who runs the car wash, An interim Slavery and Trafficking Risk Order was also granted on Bachtiar Mohammed Amin, aged 34, who works with Sahdi at Supershine.

The order was granted by magistrates as the business was believed to be housing vulnerable workers with no right to work in the UK on and off site and arranging for them to be transported to work.

Intelligence also indicated that some workers were being significantly less than the National Minimum Wage. In some cases, it was alleged that they were not being paid at all.

Exterior of the hand car wash with equipment on show. | Photo: GLAA

Dale Walker, GLAA Investigating Officer, said: “The investigation is still very much in its infancy but we are satisfied that we have been able to rescue a vulnerable worker and help him get access to the support that he needs.

“Our priority from the outset was to identify and safeguard any potentially exploited workers who were working at the hand car wash and we are pleased to have been able to achieve that.

“As an intelligence-led organisation, we always welcome information from members of the public as they are our eyes and ears. If people come across something that does not look right at their local hand car wash, we would strongly encourage them to report their concerns, providing as much information as possible.

“This activity has been made all the more straightforward with the strong partnership links we have forged with our colleagues at Lincolnshire Police. We will continue to work together to stamp out illegal and exploitative working practices across the county and send a joint message that labour abuse in any sector will not be tolerated.”

Inspector Nick Waters, of Lincolnshire Police, said: “This operation was a further example of the agencies working together to safeguard victims of modern day slavery and pursuing suspected perpetrators. One person was arrested and thorough searches conducted while enquiries continue.”

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