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Herts Police and Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council working together to tackle cuckooing

3 Dec 2019
  • Cuckooing is when gangs establish a base in the location they are targeting, often taking over the homes of vulnerable adults by force or coercion

  • There are a number of signs of cuckooing and police and the council are urging residents to look out for them

  • Residents are encouraged to report anything suspicious straight away

Police and Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council are urging local residents to spot the signs of cuckooing as they work together to tackle drug dealing and safeguard vulnerable victims.

Cuckooing is the term used when gangs establish a base in the location they are targeting, often taking over the homes of vulnerable adults by force or coercion. It is frequently linked to ‘County Lines’, the name given to describe drug dealing by criminal gangs from urban areas expanding their activities into smaller towns and rural areas.

There are a number of signs of cuckooing and police and the council are urging residents to look out for the following:

  • Lots of different people coming and going from a property during the day and at night
  • Suspicious smells coming from the property
  • Windows covered or curtains closed all of the time
  • Cars pulling up to or near to the property for a short period of time
  • An increase in anti-social behaviour around the property
  • You haven’t seen the person who lives there recently or other people appear to be living there

Welwyn Hatfield Safer Neighbourhood Team Inspector Wayne Nash said: “Drugs have a devastating impact on communities and we do all we can to disrupt the local drugs trade by arresting offenders, conducting proactive warrants and gathering intelligence.

“The public’s help is vital in tackling the drugs trade and this is why we are working closely with the council to raise awareness of the signs of cuckooing. Please familiarise yourselves with the signs and if you suspect that a property is being targeted for cuckooing, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Getting in contact could mean that we are able to protect a vulnerable neighbour and take more drugs off the streets of Welwyn Hatfield.”

Simone Russell, Corporate Director at Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, said: “Cuckooing is a particularly nasty crime that preys on the vulnerable, often taking over properties by force or coercion and exploiting children to move drugs and money.

“Cuckooing impacts the wider community, and it is important that neighbours and communities are able to spot the signs and report it early to help reduce the impact it has on all concerned.

“Where cuckooing is uncovered, we will work with the police and the individuals involved to ensure the correct safety measures and enforcement actions take place. We want to make Welwyn Hatfield a difficult place for criminals to operate.”

How can you help tackle cuckooing?

  • Make sure you know the signs to look out for
  • Work with us by reporting anything suspicious straight away
  • You can call 101, report information online at herts.police.uk/report or speak to an operator in our Force Communications Room via our online web chat, which can be launched at herts.police.uk/contact.
  • You can also report anti-social behaviour by emailing asb@welhat.gov.uk or calling 01707 357706.
  • You can report information anonymously through CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their untraceable online form at crimestoppers-uk.org.
  • Remember if a crime is in progress or someone’s life is in danger, always call 999

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