Safeguarding and prevention

Hate Crimes, Mate Crimes and Cuckooing

BSL Support

What is a hate crime?

A hate crime is any criminal offense that is motivated by hostility or prejudice based upon a person’s identity, such as race, sexuality, or disability.

What is mate crime?

Mate crime is a form of disability hate crime. It is when someone pretends to be friends with a person who is vulnerable but then takes advantage by asking for money, or exploiting or abusing them. It can be hard to spot because the offender is deemed a friend and the vulnerable person may not be aware of the person’s motives.

If someone who says they are your friend hurts you, steals from you, or makes you do something you don’t want to do, you should tell to someone you trust right away and report it to the police.

People with disabilities, particularly those with learning disabilities are often the target of mate crime. It can be a very serious crime where victims have been hurt or killed.

Types of abuse:

Financial abuse:

The abuser might demand to be lent money and then not pay it back

The abuser might misuse the property of the adult

Physical abuse: The abuser might hurt or injure the adult
Harassment or emotional abuse: The abuser might manipulate, mislead and make the person feel worthless
Sexual abuse: The abuser might harm or take advantage of the person sexually

You can read more about different types of Modern Day Slavery and how to report victims to the National Referral Mechanism here.

Watch this short animation to find out more:

What is cuckooing?

Cuckooing is a practice where people take over a person’s home and use the property to facilitate exploitation. It takes its name from cuckoos who takeover the nests of other birds.

It is sometimes called “Home Invasion” and can involve:

  • Taking over or using the property to take drugs
  • Taking over or using the property for sex work/human trafficking
  • Taking over or using the property to store weapons
  • Taking over the property as a place to live
  • Taking over the property to financially abuse the homeowner/tenant
  • Using the property to manage the “workforce” of drug runners and to carry out acts of violence. This is sometimes called “County Lines”.


What are the signs of cuckooing?

  • Frequent visitors, an increase in people entering and leaving
  • An increase in cars or bikes outside
  • Possible increase in anti-social behaviour in and around the property
  • Signs of drug use
  • An increase in litter or drug paraphernalia outside the property
  • Lack of healthcare visitors


People who are often targeted:

  • People with mental health needs
  • People with learning disabilities
  • Older people
  • Individuals who are struggling financially
  • People who have drug and/or alcohol addictions


How to report hate crimes and cuckooing:

If you are worried that you or someone you know may be experiencing a hate crime or their homes are being cuckooed, there are many ways to report it:

  • in an emergency call 999

  • for non-emergencies call 101

  • visit your local police station

  • talk to a trusted friend, family member, support worker, social worker or teacher

If you live in social housing, you can also contact your housing officer to inform them of concerns that you have about the property.

To raise a concern about a vulnerable adult that is being cuckooed, please call the 24-hour Safeguarding helpline on 020 3373 0440. During office hours, please select option 1.

Alternatively, you can use our short online form to report suspected abuse

Raise a safeguarding adult concern form

stop hate uk

Stop Hate UK

You can also report a hate crime anonymously and without directly contacting the policy by calling 0800 138 1625 or clicking the link below. This service is available 24 hours a day.

Report a hate crime