Central Bedfordshire Council is running a social media campaign this week to raise awareness of ‘cuckooing’. This is to assist the community to recognise the signs and report any suspicious behaviour to the Safer Communities and Partnership team.
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 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
Cllr Ian Dalgarno, 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.”
Following the social media campaign, on Tuesday 16 March, the Safer Communities and Partnership team will be hosting a virtual conference about cuckooing for professionals.
The event is the first of two planned for 2021, with the second planned for September.
Cllr Dalgarno said:
“Our Safer Communities and Partnership team take all reports of suspected cuckooing seriously, and work with partners to ensure potential victims are safe. We’re delivering our first virtual conference this month as part of our efforts to continue raising awareness.
“Working together is the key to ending this kind of exploitation. Information from the community is also vital, and we hope that our communities will become familiar with the signs and feel confident to report any concerns or anything untoward.”
To report concerns, email Central Bedfordshire Council’s Safer Communities and Partnership team.
You can also call Bedfordshire Police on 101 or report information online using its online reporting centre.
You can also report information anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.