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Cuckooing - An Emerging Issue

“Cuckooing” is a criminal activity that is increasingly becoming an issue. Vulnerable people are having their homes taken over by gangs often to deal drugs. Like a cuckoo would with another birds nest, the gangs take over the home.

Gang members will befriend a vulnerable person and start to visit their home. Soon lots of other “new friends” are visiting and quickly the victim loses control of their own home. The effect is devastating.

There are different types of cuckooing:

  • Using the property to deal, store or take drugs.
  • Using the property as a base for sex work.
  • Taking over the property as a place for others to live.
  • Taking over the property to financially abuse the tenant.

The most common form is typically linked to the drug trade known as “County Lines”. This is a term used for organised crime, particularly illegal drug-dealing networks, usually controlled from a single telephone number or “deal line”. It usually involves drugs being transported from a large urban area to a more rural location where there is less competition and those involved are less easily identifiable.

The residents who have their home “cuckooed” are sometimes not even aware that they are victims: they see the criminals as a boyfriend, or friends, or are getting a small payment for the use of their property. As the criminals gain control of the victim, often by use of force, the resident will sometimes find that they are only allowed to use one room in their own home and live in fear of violence. Some have left their property to live on the streets rather than stay.

If you think you have spotted a “drugs cuckoo” or if you are concerned about a drug related crime, please call the police on 101, or in an emergency call 999. If you don't want to speak to the police directly please contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or use the anonymous online form at More information can also be found online at, a campaign run by Crimestoppers. Their website offers information, support and links to further support organisations. Please share your concerns, we are here to help.

If you would like the Central Bedfordshire Safer Communities Team to attend a community group to explain more about cuckooing, please contact us by email at or phone on 0300 300 8302