Two people in their 60s have been arrested in London after the grim discovery that three women – from Ireland, Malaysia, and Britain were held captive in their home for over 30 years. The two arrested were later freed on bail.
Police are investigating whether a wider slave trade was being operated and are already understood to have visited Ireland to continue their inquiries.
The women were found in a house in Lambeth, in South London. The police have confirmed that the Irishwoman, a 69-year-old Malaysian woman, and a 30-year-old British woman have all been rescued.
It is believed that 30-year-old woman has spent her entire life in servitude.
The 57-year-old Irish captive raised the alarm last month when she phoned a charity helpline after watching a documentary on forced marriages. Her call triggered a Scotland Yard investigation into slavery and domestic servitude that led to the arrest of the women's captors.
The Irish woman called Freedom Charity, which works with victims of forced marriages or honor-based violence, according to Scotland Yard.
The suspects, a man and woman, both 67-years-old and are not British.
Speaking to the International Business Times their neighbors in Lambeth said they were shocked by the news and described the alleged captors as a “nice and normal couple.”
One neighbor said, “They just kept themselves to themselves and I keep myself to myself. It was just a case of we'd pass and say hello to each other.
"They were a very nice couple. They just seemed a very normal couple."
Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland, from the Metropolitan Police’s Human Trafficking Unit, told a press conference held outside Scotland Yard that his unit has seen cases of captivity of up to ten years but they have not seen “anything of this magnitude before.
“This is the first time we have come across people who have been held for such a considerable length of time.”
Speaking about the 30-year-old British woman Hyland said, “We believe that she, and the others, had limited freedom. We will continue to speak to the victims to ascertain what this ascertained.”
Founder of Freedom Charity, Aneeta Prem, said was necessary to gain the woman’s trust before contacting the police. The police rescued the three captive one week after the phonecall.
Prem told Sky News "We started in-depth to talks to them when they could, it had to be pre-arranged. They gave us set times when they were able to speak to us.
"It was planned that they would be able to walk out of the property. The police were on stand-by.
"They were able to leave the property, but it was done in such a way... it was a very, very excellent way it happened.
Ms Prem said the two people arrested were considered the "heads of the family," and that the women were "absolutely terrified" of them.
She added: "They felt they were in massive danger. I don't believe the neighbours knew anything about it at all.
"It was just an ordinary house in an ordinary street. They were very restricted on everything they could do.
"We absolutely thrilled this has happened."
Here’s the Telegraph’s online report: