Hertfordshire Police confirm dozens of 'cuckooing' incidents exploiting vulnerable residents

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Police believe the number could be higher due to difficulties spotting the illegal activity

New data from Hertfordshire Constabulary has revealed that dozens of ‘cuckooing’ cases have been reported throughout the county already in 2024.

According to information released by the police force this morning (7 May), 99 cases have been recorded in hertfordshire, 14 of these happened in Dacorum.

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Cuckooing is where criminals take over the homes of vulnerable people as a front for organised wrongdoing. Hertfordshire Constabulary says cases are lower in the county than in other parts of the UK.


However, the force is concerned that the crime might be underreported locally as people do not recognise it is happening or they are too frightened to report on it.

Across Hertfordshire, in only two boroughs were more cases reported than in Dacorum with, 28 confirmed in Stevenage and 19 in Welwyn Hatfield.

To raise awareness of the crime a campaign has been launched by Hertfordshire Constabulary.

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A survey released by the police was answered by over 1,000 residents and this has helped officers better understand the barriers to exposing cuckooing.

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Liz Hanlon, Independent chair of the Hertfordshire Safeguarding Adults Board, said: “Cuckooing is a hidden crime, which often goes undetected by police and other agencies. Victims are often unwilling or unable to seek help due to being vulnerable or under the control of violent offenders. Often this can have serious long-term consequences for victims, who are mainly young, elderly, disabled or have drug or financial problems. Those living close to a cuckooed address will also suffer from criminal activities and anti-social behaviour in their communities.

“It is likely that cuckooing in Hertfordshire is under reported and can be difficult for police and other agencies to detect, however it could be quite obvious to those living close to a cuckooed property, if they knew what signs to look out for. Once you learn the signs, it can be quite obvious that an address in your area may be being cuckooed. If you have spotted any of these signs, help to make your neighbourhood safer by reporting it.”

Hertfordshire Police has provided the following guidance to help spot cuckooing:

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-An increase in the number of visitors to the property through the day and night, often visiting for only short periods of time.

-An increased number of vehicles outside the property including taxis or hire cars.

-The usual occupier of the property having new associates staying and bags of clothing and / or extra bedding in the property.

-The occupier moving out or staying away from the property whilst an unknown person remains.

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-Evidence of drug use such as discarded syringes, foil and cling film in and around the property and evidence of drug dealing such as scales and deal bags.

-An increase in local crime and anti-social behaviour, including the accumulation and storage of stolen pedal cycles.

-Victims of cuckooing may disengage from support services and be unwilling to discuss what is happening at their property when the subject is raised with them.

-Individuals with large amounts of cash or multiple mobile phones.

-Excessive receipt of texts/phone calls.

-Leaving a care placement without any explanation.

-Suspicion of physical assault/unexplained injuries.

-Carrying weapons.

-Changes to emotional wellbeing