Over 250 people signed up to a virtual conference run by Central Bedfordshire Council’s Safer Communities and Partnership Team to raise awareness of cuckooing and exploitation.
The team organised the Cuckooing and Exploitation conference for professionals and partner agencies, to raise awareness of both issues.
The team gave attendees some background on cuckooing, and the Council’s Estates Management and Enforcement Team spoke about their work to safeguard victims.
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.
Guest speakers included Sergeant James West from Bedfordshire Police, who gave a presentation to highlight how drugs supply and cuckooing are linked, and Pete Gomm, Bedfordshire Police’s Child Sexual Exploitation and Operation Makesafe Coordinator.
Cllr Ian Dalgarno, Central Bedfordshire Council Executive Member for Community Services, said: “We’re really pleased by the response to our conference, as working in partnership is key to ending exploitation like cuckooing.
"By hosting this type of event to increase understanding amongst partners, we will be able to continue to tackle this kind of exploitation together.
“I’d like to thank all our guest speakers for taking the time to come along and give presentations.”
The Council’s Safer Communities and Partnership Team works with a range of agencies – including the police, mental health services and housing associations - to help, support and safeguard vulnerable victims of cuckooing and exploitation.
It hopes to run another conference in September.
Sergeant James West from Bedfordshire Police said: “We will relentlessly pursue and disrupt those we suspect of being involved in drug dealing and other forms of serious and organised crime.
“But it is only by working with our partners that we can tackle the root causes of these issues and protect vulnerable people from exploitation.
“Central Bedfordshire’s Safer Communities and Partnership Team do fantastic work alongside to stop the gangs responsible for this exploitation and to keep their residents safe.”
What is cuckooing and how can you report it?
Signs of cuckooing can include an increase in people outside or entering a property or people coming and going at strange times
Other signs could include:
> a change in the behaviour of the resident; they stop engaging with family, neighbours or support services, or appear anxious or distracted
> damage to the front door
> an increase in anti-social behaviour near the property
> an increase in litter outside the property
Councillor Ian Dalgarno, Central Bedfordshire Council Executive Member for Community Services, said: Cuckooing is an abhorrent crime, with perpetrators taking advantage of vulnerable people. Victims may be unable to speak out as they could be in fear of violence. Tackling exploitation like this, to identify those at risk and making sure they have access to the relevant support services, is one of the Community Safety Partnership’s priorities for the next three years."
To report concerns about cuckooing, email Central Bedfordshire Council’s Safer Communities and Partnership team at [email protected]
You can also call Bedfordshire Police on 101 or report information online, or report information anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.