Central Bedfordshire Council news and press releases

We're working with businesses to raise awareness of exploitation and domestic abuse

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

We've spent time visiting local businesses to raise awareness of drug dealing, its associated exploitation and domestic violence.

As part of Central Bedfordshire’s Community Safety Partnership’s (CSP) commitment to tackling drug dealing, its associated exploitation and domestic violence, we've spent time visiting local businesses.

We spent two days visiting business in Biggleswade, Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard to talk about how they play a vital part in keeping communities safe. As well as talking about how to report crime, we aimed to raise awareness of cuckooing and how members of staff can spot the signs of vulnerability which may indicate that a person is being exploited.

After talking in person to staff and business owners, we handed out posters for staff outlining information about how to spot potential exploitation and how to report concerns.

Cuckooing is the term used to describe criminals, mainly drug dealers, taking advantage of a vulnerable person, using threats of violence and other methods to take over their home and using it as a base for criminal activity. Signs of cuckooing can include an increase in people outside or entering a property, people coming and going at strange times, a change in the behaviour of the resident, damage to the front door of a property or an increase in anti-social behaviour near the property.

We also provided leaflets about the Bedfordshire Domestic Abuse Partnership, containing information about support available for anyone experiencing domestic abuse.

Councillor Ian Dalgarno, our Executive Member for Community Services, said:

Our communities are key to helping us tackle things like drug dealing and its associated exploitation, and so raising awareness of the signs that someone is being exploited continues to be an important piece of work for us.

Many victims of cuckooing are afraid to speak out or seek help as they may be at risk of violence, and so it’s vital that others can spot the signs and feel confident reporting concerns. Our Safer Communities and Partnership team take all reports of suspected cuckooing seriously, and work with partners to ensure potential victims are safe.

Nobody should feel unsafe in their relationship or in their home so it’s important that everyone knows that there is support available if they are facing domestic abuse. Our team will continue to raise awareness of the support available, so anyone facing domestic abuse feels confident in coming forward and seeking help.

We'll continue to work with businesses in August and plan to visit Ampthill, Flitwick, Shefford and Dunstable.

In April, identifying and disrupting County Lines drug dealing was named as one of the CSP’s priorities over the next three years. The CSP is a partnership of agencies working across Central Bedfordshire, and drug dealing was highlighted as the biggest concern for residents who took part in the 2020 Safer Central Survey which helps inform the strategy.

County Lines drug dealing, where illegal drugs are transported from one area to another across local authority boundaries, encompasses a range of issues including the exploitation of children and adults, cuckooing, human trafficking, drugs supply and violent crime. Over the next three years, the CSP will work closely with partners to identify those at risk of exploitation, and ensure they have access to relevant support services.

The CSP’s second priority is to continue to raise awareness of domestic abuse and ensure earlier intervention and access to support for those who are vulnerable.

Find out how to get support for domestic abuse.