City Council secures closure order to protect vulnerable resident from County Lines drug dealers

Published: Monday, 11th February 2019

Oxford City Council has secured a closure order against a flat in Oxford to protect a vulnerable resident from cuckooing by County Lines drug dealers.

The order restricts anyone from entering or attempting to enter the flat, in Ferry Hinksey Road, with the exception of the resident, police officers, City Council officers and agents working on behalf of the organisations.

It is a criminal offence to break a closure order, and anyone doing so could face up to 51 weeks imprisonment and/or a fine.

The order was granted by Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Friday 18 January and lasts for three months.

The resident, an Oxford City Council tenant, was being cuckooed by a County Lines organised crime group. Cuckooing is a practice where people take over a person’s home and use the property to facilitate exploitation.

The closure order was carried out with the full cooperation of the resident.

Oxford City Council and Thames Valley Police worked closely to secure the order. Both organisations received reports of drug taking and other anti-social behaviour taking place at the property.

The Oxford Public Spaces Drugs Taskforce was also involved in the case. The City Council, Thames Valley Police and Oxfordshire County Council created the taskforce last year to tackle open drug dealing and drug taking in Oxford.

Councillor Tom Hayes, Executive Board Member for Safer and Greener Environment, said: “Nobody should be controlling and forcing people into doing things against their will, particularly very vulnerable people.

“There are clear crossovers between modern-day slavery and the calculated, horrific exploitation of vulnerable people for storing and moving money and drugs around the city, and Oxford City Council will go on tackling drugs slavery with closure orders such as this one.

“As part of the new drugs taskforce set up to stop the public drugs trade in our city, we will work to ensure every vulnerable person can be found, gets protection and stops being exploited, and accesses the support they need to rebuild their lives.”