Properties were raided as part of an investigation into suspected brothels operating across the county.

Detectives working with Essex Police's Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit arrested one woman last night following searches at addresses in Colchester and Brentwood.

The unit is taking action following reports of young women being trafficked into the country and forced to work as prostitutes.

A 49-year-old woman, from Brentwood, was arrested in a building on the town's High Street on suspicion of controlling prostitution for gain.

She remains in custody for questioning.

A second woman at the address was detained for immigration offences.

A warrant was also carried out in St Peter’s Street, Colchester, where a woman was given safety advice by officers.

No arrests were made at this address.

The arrests were the latest in an ongoing operation by the MSHT Unit and partner agencies.

Essex Police was supported by a victim navigator from the international charity Justice and Care.

The navigator ensures all victims are supported throughout the operation.

They assist in guiding victims through the criminal justice process and aid them in adjusting to life outside servitude.

DC Nicola Fry, who co-ordinated last night's activity, said: "Tonight’s warrant – and the warrants that this team has carried out since its inception earlier this year – show the dedication and determination of our unit to stop the exploitation of vulnerable people.

"This intense investigation has seen us support victims who have alleged these crimes against them and arrests across the county and beyond.

“We won’t stop in our mission to protect those who are at risk of this kind, or any kind of exploitation."

Others arrested in connection with the investigation - a 39-year-old woman, from Southend, and a 53-year-old woman, from Basildon, a 30-year-old man and 34-year-old woman, from Poplar, and a 47-year-old man, from Finsbury Park – have been released on bail until Monday 2 January.

A 48-year-old woman, from Bromley, who was arrested on Monday 5 August, will face no further action.

A 67-year-old man, from Herne Bay in Kent, arrested on the same day, has been released under investigation as enquiries continue.

Anyone with information about human trafficking can call police on 101, 999 in an emergency or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.