Hertfordshire’s Safeguarding Adults Board cuckooing awareness campaign visits Three Rivers

NewsUpdated: 16 May 2024Crime and safety

Hertfordshire’s Safeguarding Adult Board has launched a Hertfordshire-wide campaign to help raise awareness of ‘cuckooing’ – which visited Three Rivers this week.

Cuckooing is where criminals take over the homes of vulnerable people to use as a base for their activities. Reporting of offences is relatively low in Hertfordshire compared to other parts of the UK. However, it is likely that this type of crime is being under-reported, either because people do not recognise it is happening or they are too frightened of the potential consequences.

To coincide with the campaign’s launch, an Advan promoting awareness of cuckooing came to Prestwick Road in South Oxhey on Wednesday, 15 May, and will be touring other parts of the county.

During 2024, ninety-nine cuckooing offences were reported across the county, with Stevenage (28), Welwyn Hatfield (19) and Dacorum (14) having the highest number of incidents.

To gauge current levels of understanding of cuckooing, a public survey was completed by over 1000 residents and has helped to get a better idea of some of the issues and barriers to reporting.

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.”

Cllr Sarah Nelmes, Leader of Three Rivers District Council, said: “People should feel safe in their own homes, but sadly this is not the case for victims of this abhorrent practice.

“Cuckooing is a silent crime conducted by organised and violent gangs. This is a vital issue, and I am glad the council – alongside its partners – is helping to raise awareness of cuckooing to help people spot the signs and how to address it in order to make our county safer.”

You can spot the signs of cuckooing and find out more information by visiting: www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/cuckooing.

If you suspect cuckooing is taking place call 101 to report, in an emergency always call 999.

Alternatively, you can stay 100% anonymous by contacting the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their untraceable online form.