Three women were arrested in Epsom on suspicion of involvement in modern slavery on Monday (November 25), police said.

Revealing details of the raid which led to the arrest of the suspects on Wednesday, Surrey Police said that the three women were suspected of running a brothel in Epsom.

Two women of no fixed address, aged 31 and 23, were arrested on suspicion of running a brothel under Section 33 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and released under investigation.

A 44-year-old woman of no fixed address was also arrested on suspicion of immigration offences. She has been released and will be referred to immigration services.

Surrey Police said that over 50 officers and staff on the county police force, as well as partners from other agencies, took part in the four warrants which were carried out at addresses across Epsom.

East Surrey Sergeant James Dawborn said: "The local team in Epsom identified a number of addresses that we believed to be operating as brothels, where women were being trafficked into and around the country.

"We executed several warrants in conjunction with the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU), which resulted in three women being removed from those addresses.

"They were taken to a dedicated reception centre where other agencies, including Epsom and Ewell Borough Council, Streetlight, Red Cross and Justice and Care were able to provide emotional and physical support.

"We all have a duty to do everything we can to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking in our local communities and ensure that vulnerable victims are safeguarded.’’

A spokesperson for Surrey Police described modern slavery as both a "hidden crime" and a "growing problem" in Surrey.

In the last three months alone, Surrey Police received 26 reports in relation to potential modern slavery cases.

After news of the arrests broke, the Comet spoke with modern slavery expert Jakub Sobik from Anti-Slavery International.

He said that the scale of modern slavery in the UK was "in the tens of thousands", referencing the National Crime Agency.

"In 2013 the UK government estimated there were around 13,000 people are in modern slavery at any time.

"But that was over five years ago and there is a wide understanding that the numbers are much higher," he said.

The scale of modern slavery is difficult to know precisely, largely because of its underground nature.

Its form in 21st Century Britain is clearer.

"It's when a person is tricked, trapped and exploited for commercial or personal gain. People find ways of keeping people trapped and making sure they cannot leave," Mr Sobik said.

"It could be done by violence, threats, abusing positions of power. Debt is quite often involved as a means of control.

"Forced labour is the most widespread form of slavery in the UK and that includes industries such as agriculture, construction, services like car washes.

"It could also be domestic slavery, sex slavery or the so-called county lines drug trafficking, where teenagers are often exploited," Mr Sobik added.

The slavery expert pointed out that slavery's clandestine nature in today's society makes it all the more challenging to combat.

"Because modern slavery is underground and that makes it much more difficult to tackle.

"Poverty and discrimination are involved. For example, migrants coming to the UK and working illegally without a network of support are easy targets who can be taken advantage of.

"Especially if they know that coming forward to the authorities means they will be criminalized for working illegally and for their immigration — that plays into the hands of traffickers," he said.

"Victims are being treated as criminals way too often and not being given the support they need."

It can be difficult to spot the signs of modern slavery.

If you encounter a situation which doesn’t seem right, even if you’re not quite sure about it, Surrey Police are asking you to report it by contacting them on 101 (999 in an emergency) or calling the Modern Slavery Helpline anonymously on 08000 121 700.