Irishwoman held captive for 30 years discovered in London

Irishwoman held captive for 30 years discovered in London

Two people have been arrested after police discovered three “traumatised” women, believed to have been imprisoned in a London home for more than 30 years.

The 57-year-old Irish woman, who has not been named, was one of the three rescued.

Scotland Yard confirmed two people in their 60s were arrested at their home in south London this morning as part of an investigation into slavery and domestic servitude.

It followed a call to police last month, from a charity on behalf of one of the alleged captives, who said she had been held against her will for more than 30 years.

Police said the Freedom Charity, which aims to advise and support victims of forced marriages or honour-based violence, got in touch after they received a call following a television documentary on forced marriages.

Scotland Yard said further inquiries by police revealed the location of the house and with the help of sensitive negotiations conducted by the charity, the three women – a 69-year-old Malaysian woman, a 57-year-old Irish woman and a 30-year-old British woman – were all rescued.

All three, who police described as “highly traumatised”, were taken to a place of safety where they remain.

Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland, from the Met’s human trafficking unit, said: “We applaud the actions of Freedom Charity and are working in partnership to support these victims who appear to have been held for over 30 years.

“We have launched an extensive investigation to establish the facts surrounding these very serious allegations.

“A television documentary on forced marriages relating to the work of Freedom Charity was the catalyst that prompted one of the victims to call for help and led to their rescue.”

Officers said the two suspects, a 67-year-old man and a 67-year-old woman, have been taken to a south London police station where they remain in custody.

The call which triggered the police investigation is believed to have been prompted by a documentary on television news channels during the summer, which investigated false marriages in the UK.

Earlier this year the UK's Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) - a joint operation by the British Home Office and the Uk's Foreign and Commonwealth Office - revealed it helped in 1,485 cases of possible forced marriage in 2012, involving 60 countries across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and North America.

The statistics for last year show that of the 744 cases where the age was known, more than 600 involved people under the age of 26.

Aneeta Prem, Freedom Charity founder, said the alleged victims - who are believed to have suffered physical and mental harm - were able to walk out of the property after extensive calls with the charity.

She 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 standby.

“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.”

Asked about what help the women will be given, the charity founder said: “They are going to be afforded all the help and support that can be.

“I’m so grateful they saw the news.

“Now they will try to re-build their lives.”

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