How can these things happen?

Cleveland was rocked last year by the revelation that a man had imprisoned three women in his house for a decade, fathering a child by one of them, before they were rescued. It seemed bizarre that this could have happened in a city in a neighborhood where the houses were so close to each other, and triggered a lot of discussion and guilt about how it could be that no one noticed anything untoward.

But now comes along another story of three women held captive for three decades in a much bigger and even more densely populated city of London, England.

Three women have been “rescued” from a south London house as police investigate claims they were held as slaves for about 30 years.

Police arrested a 67-year-old man and woman in Lambeth this morning.

Last month officers were contacted by Freedom Charity after it received a call from a woman saying she had been held against her will for decades.

A Malaysian woman, 69, an Irish woman, 57, and a British woman, 30, were rescued from the house on 25 October.

The women, who are said to be “highly traumatised”, are now in safe accommodation.

Police said they were not related to each other and the 30-year-old had spent her whole life in captivity. Officers are trying to establish whether she was born in the house.

Speaking to the BBC, Aneeta Prem, founder of Freedom Charity, said the charity was investigating how the women had remained hidden for so long.

“In a very busy capital city we often don’t know our neighbours. We’re looking at people who were kept against their will in an ordinary residential street in central London,” she said.

I am wondering how many such cases there may be around the world, right under our noses.