Police begin house to house enquiries in alleged slavery case
Couple are being questioned in connection with allegations of servitude
A PCSO speaks to a driver near flats in Brixton, south London, as police conduct house-to-house enquires in the area where three women were allegedly held as slaves for at least 30 years were rescued. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Police have begun house-to-house enquiries in South London near the property where an Irishwoman and two others were allegedly held in slavery for more than 30 years.
The Metropolitan Police said the couple who were arrested and questioned in connection with allegations of servitude and false imprisonment are Indian and Tanzanian.
Commander Steve Rodhouse said police had made an agreement with the women on October 25th - the day the three women were freed - not to arrest the couple then.
“Since that date we have been working to gain their trust and evidence; that came to fruition on November 21st when we were in a position to make arrests,” he said.
He said it had taken weeks to gain the trust and confidence of the highly traumatised victims, adding: “This must move at their pace, not anyone else’s.”
“The suspects are of Indian and Tanzanian origin that came to the UK in the 1960s. We believe that two of the victims met the male suspect in London through a shared political ideology, and that they lived together at an address that you could effectively call a collective.”
However, Mr Rodhouse said although the “collective” eventually ended, the women ended up continuing to live with the suspects.
“The people involved, the nature of that collective and how it operated is all subject to our investigation and we are slowly and painstakingly piecing together more information. I will not give any further information about it,” he said.
The three women - a 57-year-old Irishwoman, a 69-year-old Malaysian woman and a 30-year-old from Britain - had also faced emotional and physical abuse.
The Irish and the Malaysian women are believed to have been with the
couple for between 30 and 40 years, while the younger woman has spent
all of her life there.
Police this morning began house-to-house enquiries in SW9 7 in London,
which covers Stockwell, Brixton, Clapham, Lambeth.
Today, the Freedom Charity - which was contacted by the Irishwoman - said calls from possible victims of slavery and servitude have grown five times since the story broke on Thursday.
“We have seen an extraordinary rise in calls to our helpline since the rescue of the three women came into the public domain,” founder Aneeta Prem said. “We received five times as many calls in 24 hours
as we normally do in one week and are needing to increase our resources to cope with this extra demand.
“These women have had traumatic and distributing experiences, which they have revealed to us. What needs to happen now is that the three victims, who have begun a long process of recovery, are able to go through their rehabilitation undisturbed, without being identified,” he said.
The Metropolitan Police said on Friday neighbours would have been unlikely to have suspected problems, since the group would have seemed “normal” to outsiders.
The women are believed to have served the couple hand-and-foot, though there are suspicions that the couple may have children who lived in the property as well.
Police began house-to-house enquiries in SW9 in London, which covers Battersea and Wandsworth - the better-off end of the Lambeth borough, where houses tend to be larger and more separated from neighbours.