Police and charity workers have been giving more details about how an Irish woman and two others were rescued from a house in London where they had been held captive as slaves for 30 years.
It’s been revealed that the 57-year-old Irish woman was the one who made the vital phone call that led to their escape.
It came after the women had all watched a TV documentary about the issue of domestic slavery. The programme was based on the Freedom Charity, which helps victims to get away from the captors and start rebuilding their lives.
The charity’s founder, Aneeta Prem, said the Irish woman had seen her in the programme and realised that there were people on the outside who cared and who could help. She managed to get access to a phone while her captors were not looking and called the charity’s helpline.
Prem said the woman was very frightened that she would be caught but managed to describe the women’s plight.
“We believed the women’s story completely and began to gain their trust over a series of calls.
“The initial phone call that went into our helpline was very traumatic and difficult, even for our professional staff. Then they were given just one person to contact in the charity and some very secret negotiations were done with them.
“We did it in a very slow way to gain their trust because they’d had 30 years of being held in very difficult circumstances. One of thing we didn’t want to do was add any more trauma.”
“How we were going to facilitate their release was crucially important.”
‘Traumatised but very relieved to be out’
The Irish woman eventually agreed to meet charity workers after leaving the house for a short period. Police then moved in to rescue the remaining victims, a Malaysian woman aged 69, and a British woman aged 30.
Prem said: “They’re traumatised but very relieved to be out.
“When I met them it was a very humbling experience. They all threw their arms around me. They cried enormously and thanked the charity for the work Freedom had done in saving their lives. They all said that we had saved their lives.
“I think it’s going to be a very long journey for them now. If you have spent your entire life in captivity, you know nothing different, even the smallest freedoms, the smallest things you have no knowledge of and I think it’s going to be a difficult process.”
The women are being cared for in a place of safety and being provided with medical help and counselling.
Police say the women had been restrained with “invisible handcuffs” and had feared trying to escape because of what would happen to them if they were caught.
A man and a woman, both aged 67, have been arrested in connection with the case. Both have been released on bail pending further inquiries.