Police raided premises in Mill Lane, Uckfield, yesterday (October 22) which they suspect of being used as a brothel.
Two women who were allegedly being exploited through debt bondage and forced to work as prostitutes were removed from the property.
They were offered full support through existing agencies and the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) , which identifies victims of exploitation and provides ongoing support.
Officers from East Sussex Project Discovery executed a warrant to search the premises which were being operated as a spa and massage business in Mill Lane off Uckfield High Street, and a flat nearby.
Documents and cash were seized from the premises.
Working alongside police were representatives from Immigration Enforcement, local authority Environmental Health and East Sussex Fire and Rescue, and Streetlight UK, a charitable organisation dedicated to enabling women in prostitution to reclaim control of their lives.
Detective Sergeant Sophie McGarel said: “The operation follows reports from the public that women of apparent Chinese background have been offering sexual services, and the national intelligence picture shows that women are being exploited by human trafficking gangs around the UK for sexual work.
“This action is part of our ongoing work to uncover the problem of modern slavery that can affect any part of the country.
“We work with our partners in Discovery Team to expose hidden crime and safeguard some of the most vulnerable people within our communities.
“Modern Slavery exists within our local communities and this is another example of the public recognising the signs and reporting it to us.”
Sussex Police explained how the East Sussex Project Discovery team works
The Discovery Team in East Sussex brings together local police officers, fire officers, Stop the Traffik Hastings, King’s Church, Local Councils, Depart of Work and Pension, HMRC, Home Office Immigration, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, and local charities, all with the aim of seeing victims of modern slavery rescued, supported and perpetrators brought to justice.
The operation comes as Sussex Police have been running a two-week public awareness campaign to remind local communities of the risk of modern slavery in their midst, and how they can help to spot the signs and combat it.
For further advice and information on spotting signs of modern slavery and how to report it see the Sussex Police website
- In early September a woman was arrested by officers investigating suspected modern slavery activity in the town.