Much more to do to tackle ‘cuckooing’, says Assembly member

Much more needs to be done to tackle cuckooing, an “under the radar crime” that targets the most vulnerable in communities, says London Assembly Labour’s policing and crime spokesperson Unmesh Desai.

Feb 1, 2024
By Paul Jacques
Picture: LGA

He has called for the Government to make cuckooing a specific offence to improve police recording of the crime and subsequent response to it.

Cuckooing is the practice whereby criminals target vulnerable people to gain access to their homes and use them to deal drugs or weapons.

Mr Desai has written to London’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, asking for an update on recommendations that came from his 2023 report, ‘Addressing Cuckooing in London’, and any progress made by the Government.

The Justice Secretary, Alex Chalk MP, recently said it is worth considering making cuckooing a specific criminal offence following further high-profile cases.

A recent case of cuckooing that took place in Camden saw the tragic death of the victim, said Mr Desai. Another case has recently led to the arrest of three people, who were exploiting children as young as 15, with firearms and knives being found at the property.

Mr Desai has repeated his calls for better recording, awareness raising and a review of existing laws and legal frameworks, all of which were recommended in his May 2023 report.

Mr Desai said: “It is crucial that we keep cuckooing on the agenda. It has long been a hidden crime that the police and local councils have struggled to tackle, with little guidance and a lack of a joined-up approach.

“Months on from my report, I’m asking for an update as to the progress made by the Metropolitan Police Service, and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime on this issue, as well as the Government.

“I was pleased to hear the Justice Secretary’s comments on making cuckooing a specific offence, but I would like to see these words turned into action as soon as possible, so no more vulnerable Londoners are exploited by this terrible crime.”

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