Modern slavery is a crime which evolves and adapts as criminals find new ways to exploit others for their own gain. The law, the police, and the prosecution service, need to be able to respond so that offenders who take advantage of vulnerable people can be brought to justice. This paper explores a form of modern slavery which has grown in prominence over recent years, known as ‘cuckooing’, often associated with ‘county lines’ drug gangs. Through the work of both our Modern Slavery and Criminal Justice Units we have heard from grassroots charities that increasing numbers of vulnerable people are being severely affected, while police officers report significant challenges in bringing offenders to justice. This paper explores the impact of the practice and the challenges for enforcement, and uncovers a worrying gap in the law.
To address this gap and tackle the scourge of cuckooing we recommend the Government amends section 1 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to bring cuckooing expressly within that offence.