British authorities have arrested a couple on suspicion of holding three woman captive for more than 30 years, announced Scotland Yard on Thursday.
CNN reports that the man and woman -- both 67 -- were arrested by officers from the Human Trafficking Unit at their home located in South London. Their arrest was part of an investigation into both slavery and domestic servitude. Rescued from the home was a 69-year-old Malaysian woman, a 57-year-old Irish woman and a 30-year-old Briton, said investigators. All three women have been taken to a safe place.
"All three women were highly traumatized and were taken to a place of safety where they remained,” said Metropolitan Police Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland. “They're in the care of a charity who deal w people who are deeply traumatized. These are deeply traumatized people and it's essential we work sensitively to establish the facts of this case."
According to Hyland, the Briton woman “appears to have been in servitude for her entire life." Officials have not released the names of the suspects. But they did reveal that they are not British nationals. They have since been released on bail. Hyland has described the case as the worst the department has ever seen. "We've seen some cases where people have been held for up to 10 years, but we've never seen anything of this magnitude before," he said.
Police were alerted of the situation in October by Freedom Charity after the organization received a call from a woman informing them that she had been held captive in a home for more than 30 years. Officials timed their recovery of the victims to avoid adding any additional emotional stress to their already harrowing situation.
"They are extremely traumatized, which explains the discrepancy between when the Freedom Charity were contacted and the arrests were made," he said. "It would be wrong of us to move at a pace that would further traumatize any victims."
Hyland added that the situation continues to be investigated. But there is currently no evidence that the women were abused sexually.