‘Cuckooing’ describes a situation in which criminals take advantage of a victim by moving into their home and utilising it for their own, usually criminal, purposes. These commonly include the storage, preparation and distribution of drugs by drug traffickers. Victims may be subject to abuse or threats, or offenders may exert control over their behaviour, including restricting their use of their own homes.

Over the course of two nationwide weeks of intense police presence on county lines, 894 cuckooed homes were visited between 11-17 October 2021, and 799 cuckooed addresses were visited between 7-13 March 2022. 

A large number of individuals who fall prey to ‘cuckooing’ are chosen because they are vulnerable targets. Victims may struggle with substance abuse themselves, or they may be old, have learning difficulties, experience physical or mental health issues, or have had other traumas such as domestic abuse in the past.

The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner welcomes Clause 94 of the Criminal Justice Bill to criminalise the act of cuckooing and hopes for continued legislative engagement from the Government to support victims of modern slavery in the UK.