New campaign launched to help spot the signs of cuckooing
Tuesday, 26 May 2020
Raising awareness of drugs gangs taking over the home of a vulnerable person in order to use it as a base for their criminal network.
The Safer Central Community Safety Partnership has launched a social media campaign to raise awareness of the increasing criminal activity known as cuckooing.
What is cuckooing?
Named after the cuckoo that steals other birds’ nests, this is the practice of drugs gangs taking over the home of a vulnerable person in order to use it as a base for their criminal network.
Last year, Bedfordshire Police identified more than 80 cuckooed locations in the county with theses addresses becoming a base for the production or dealing of drugs, as well as exploitation of the person living there.
Victims are befriended by the dealers as they may be vulnerable, isolated, and often drug users themselves. The victims can be robbed, threatened, bullied or even assaulted, sometimes seriously.
What to look out for
- people entering the property
- cars or bikes outside the property
- anti-social behaviour
- litter outside
- people coming and going at strange times
There may also be:
- damage to the door, or the door being propped open
- unknown people pressing buttons to gain access to the building
- you have not seen the resident recently, or when you have, they have been anxious or distracted
- no engagement with family or services
- the resident will not open the door of their property
- phone disconnected
What to do
If you suspect someone you know is being exploited, you can:
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
- call Bedfordshire Police on 101 or report the incident online
- call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or give information online
Organised criminal networks will ruthlessly exploit vulnerable people in order to line their own pockets
Councillor Ian Dalgarno, our Executive Member for Community Services, said:
Coronavirus has changed how we all operate. Unfortunately, as a result of lockdown and the restrictions on movement, the COVID-19 emergency has seen drug dealers and other organised crime gangs move off the streets and into vulnerable people’s homes.
Many victims may be unable or afraid to speak out, so we need their friends and neighbours to speak up on their behalf and help to identify people at risk of violence and exploitation by these gangs.
Detective Chief Inspector Louisa Glynn, from Bedfordshire Police, said:
These organised criminal networks will ruthlessly exploit vulnerable people in order to line their own pockets.
They blight our communities with anti-social behaviour, knife crime and other forms of serious violence, as well as deliberately targeting those with issues such as drug or alcohol addiction, or poor mental health.
We are really happy to be supporting these efforts to raise awareness about cuckooing and hope the public can support us.
Lisa Robinson, Bedfordshire’s Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) Exploitation Lead, said:
Exploitation can cause lifelong emotional and physical trauma for victims and their families, so combatting and tackling this is a priority for us in Bedfordshire.
We need to continue to work in partnership to safeguard victims, bring offenders to justice and help keep children and vulnerable adults safe from harm. We all need to work together to tackle exploitation.