Cuckooing victim thanks police and council officers in Southend
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A victim of cuckooing has thanked police and council officers in Southend for helping him transform his life as part of a pilot project working with adults at risk of exploitation.
The man, who wished not to be named, visited Southend police station and met with Chief Inspector Ian Hughes and representatives from Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Adolescent Intervention Prevention Team.
We heard how the man had befriended criminals during a night out on the promise of employment.
They then took full control of his home and forced him to living in a building in another county.
They also used took his mobile and used his data, they restricted his activities online and on the phone and they ordered items in his name.
It was later found that 50 vehicles were insured in his name, meaning every fine, parking ticket or summons came back to just him and his address.
The man said: “They were very friendly at first and kept saying I was family.
“In a short period of time, they had moved into my place, taken my stuff and had forced me to live in another address many miles away. I was worried, felt threatened and I had lost my independence.
“I then got arrested while driving a car for them and I must say – I’ve never felt so much relief in my life.”
Our Operation Raptor South officers were informed that he had been arrested and there were concerns he was a victim of modern day slavery.
In partnership with Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, we managed to fully understand the full scale of the criminal operation before moving the man to a new address.
All the fines and court summons were cleared and he has received help through higher education and counselling.
“My impression of police was initially not very good,” the man added. “I had been fed a pack of lies and both Essex Police and the Council went above and beyond to help me transform my life.
“I felt engaged with and I grew in confidence. I’ve been visited every week and I must say, this is the most secure I’ve ever felt.”
Chief Inspector Hughes said: “Safeguarding this man was the direct result of a strong partnership framework in Southend.
“Individuals who exploit vulnerable people will be dealt with firmly and robustly.
“Bringing offenders to justice and supporting victims is our priority.
“Through the wider partnership we ensure that victims work with our teams to rebuild their lives.”
Councillor Martin Terry, cabinet member for community safety and customer contact at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, said: “It is a relief that through partnership working and information sharing, Essex Police and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council were able identify what was happening to this individual and protect him from any further exploitation.
“Cuckooing is a terrifying activity where vulnerable people are targeted and as this man’s story shows, it happens in such a covert way that the victim sometimes doesn’t realise what is going on until it is too late. It’s clear that this man is grateful for the intervention from the teams, who are dedicated to helping those living in these impossible situations.”
If you have information about cuckooing or have concerns about the welfare of a neighbour, a friend, a family member – please call us on 101 or report it online.
Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. If you have concerns about a child, please visit www.seethesigns.org.uk.