A CHARITY is concerned that workers at two Croydon brothels could have been victims of human trafficking.
The brothels were raided by police within three weeks of each other after complaints from residents in Chatfield Road, Broad Green.
Evidence uncovered during the investigation suggested there was a similar operation running in Green Lane, Norbury.
Eighteen Romanian nationals were found in the properties and served with papers to leave the UK within 30 days.
That time is almost up, and Croydon Community Against Trafficking (CCAT) is concerned the 12 women and six men could have been victims of trafficking.
Chairman Peter Cox said: "In this case the first thing [for the police] to deal with is what they see, the superficial thing and potential criminals.
"While it is only right that illegal operations should be stopped, I wonder whether the people were victims rather than possible criminals? Were there people controlling these illegal services?
"Simply sending victims out of UK can often mean they fall into the hands of traffickers who will exploit them further or if they go home they can be disowned by their families."
The Chatfield Road raid, on July 23, was carried out by officers from the Metropolitan Police's antisocial behaviour team as well as immigration officers, and found a number of rooms set up for sexual activity.
Officers went to the Green Lane site on August 8 where they discovered nine women and six men. Although they were not arrested, they were warned they would be if they continued to commit sexual offences at the properties.
A Met spokesman said when officers raid brothels they look for signs of trafficking. If they suspect it is happening, they pass details on to specialist officers within the Met's human trafficking unit.
The spokesman added: "At the two venues visited recently in Croydon, no evidence of trafficking was found.
"Our officers were accompanied by Romanian officers and all those present were spoken to and also given advice and information on how to contact police should they have any information, concerns, or are a victim of trafficking."
For more information on trafficking and slavery and how to spot it visit modernslavery.co.uk or theccat.com Anyone with information regarding human trafficking can call the Met's freephone helpline on 0800 783 2589 or the Modern Slavery helpline on 0800 0121 700.