New campaign launched to help spot the signs of cuckooing in Bedfordshire

Raising awareness of cuckooing

Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 12:15 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 12:16 pm

The Safer Central Community Safety Partnership has launched a social media campaign to raise awareness of the increasing criminal activity known as cuckooing in Bedfordshire.

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 these addresses becoming a base for the production or dealing of drugs, as well as exploitation of the person living there.

Cuckooing flyer

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.

The campaign on the Safer Central Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages shows residents how to spot the signs, which may also include an increase in:

- 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.

Cllr Ian Dalgarno, Executive Member for Community Services at Central Bedfordshire Council, 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.”

If you suspect someone you know is being exploited, you can contact:

- The Safer Communities and Partnership Team at [email protected]

- Bedfordshire Police by phoning 101 or by visiting: Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or via www.Crimestoppers-uk.orgFor more information on cuckooing, you can also go to