Published on

9 November 2023

Locking the door on anti-social behaviour

Wokingham Borough Council and Thames Valley police enacted three closure orders on properties in Wokingham Borough over the last two weeks after investigations found they were being used for criminal behaviour.

A house with the front door boarded up
Photo credit: Thames Valley Police

The closure orders were carried out to clamp down on County Lines and protect residents who were being taken advantage of.

The tenants of the houses were being subjected to ‘cuckooing’, in which the home is taken over and used for exploitation and criminal behaviour such as drug dealing or sex work, and is particularly linked to county lines drug trafficking.

The council and the police had received multiple reports regarding these properties, both on the Norreys estate in Wokingham, in the lead up to the closure orders being made.

The orders, which were granted by Reading Magistrates Court, make it an offence for anyone other than those specified to enter the properties for the next three months. The occupants have been safely moved to new addresses.

Close up of a closure notice on a front door

Photo credit: Thames Valley Police

Keeping our residents safe

These closure orders are three of several made in recent months and are one of the ways that the council protects vulnerable residents against exploitation and reduces County Lines in our neighbourhoods.

Perpetrators will usually target someone who is vulnerable, for example through mental health, isolation or addiction issues and will convince them to let them use their home by offering money or drugs.

If you have an immediate concern about someone’s wellbeing, please contact the police on 999. If you would like to report anti-social behaviour to the council you can email the team at or visit the webpage for more information.

No tolerance for intimidation in our communities

Councillor Ian Shenton, executive member for environment, sport and leisure, said: “We, alongside colleagues at Thames Valley Police, want to show the ‘cuckoos’ that we will not tolerate members of our community being intimidated and treated this way.

“Everybody has the right to live safely and free of fear in their homes and communities and I am disappointed and saddened at the lengths people will go to to intimidate and cause harm.

“We cannot do this without you, so please do keep an eye out for your neighbours. Report anything suspicious to our anti-social behaviour team or the police and help us show these criminals that they are not welcome here, or anywhere.”

Close up of a closure notice on a front door

Photo credit: Thames Valley Police

Noticing the signs

Earlier this year, a council community safety officer said: “Victims often think these people are their friends, and may feel they’re ‘in too deep’ by the time they realise they’ve lost control of the situation. It’s often become unbearable so they’re thankful and relieved when we step in.

“We can act quickly once we know what’s going on and we’re incredibly grateful when people contact us because this is a crucial first step in turning things around. If you’re worried for yourself or a neighbour, please don’t hesitate to tell us.

“There are all kinds of signs, from unusual noise and people coming and going at odd times to strangers mistakenly knocking on your door looking to ‘buy something’. If anyone is dealing drugs in one of our properties, we’ll find out and work with the police to stop it.”

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