Is There A Cuckoo's Nest (Criminal Gang) Operating Near You?


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.

That is why the Safer Central Community Safety Partnership is raising 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 the 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.

Spot the signs

A campaign is running on the SaferCentral Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages which shows residents how to spot the signs. These 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

How to get help

Victims may be unable or afraid to speak out, so if you suspect someone you know is being exploited, you can email the Safe Communities Partnership Team.

Alternatively, you can report it via the Bedfordshire Police website or phone them on 101 for a non-emergency, or 999 for an emergency.

You can also visit the Crimestoppers website or anonymously phone 0800 555 111.

For more information on keeping safe, you can also go to the Safer Central website. 


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