Helping to crack down on North London’s ‘cuckoos’ preying on the most vulnerable

21 Jul 2021

One Housing’s community safety team, working alongside the Metropolitan Police, helped to close down an illegal drug operation in Camden, where a criminal gang forced a vulnerable resident to use their home as a base for a county lines drug trafficking operation.

Known as ‘cuckooing’, this case saw an opportunistic criminal gang gain control of the resident’s home through coercion, causing the resident great distress as well as inflicting misery on the wider estate.

Following suspicious activity, neighbouring residents alerted our teams to the property. Alongside the Metropolitan Police, our Community Safety team and locksmith attended the property to investigate. On arrival they discovered that the property had been taken over by drug users and dealers. The police quickly removed the non-residents and made an arrested for drug offences.

In addition to the victim, neighbouring residents had also been affected by the criminal behaviour at the premises, and were grateful for our swift action in dealing with the matter. One resident was moved to say:

I just want to take this opportunity to thank you, for dealing and solving the problem we had with unauthorised people in a neighbouring property. You all dealt with the whole situation very professionally and swiftly. Thank you for getting them removed and changing the locks on the doors for us.

My elderly mother, and I appreciate all your hard work and efforts and as a result of what you have done, we feel safe now.

I'd also like to thank the three police officers and locksmith that attended with you for their work and attendance - without their presence it would have been difficult to complete this situation so swiftly. Thank You all ever so much for all your help.”

In the weeks that followed, we continued to support the affected resident and at his request, were able to re-home him in a new location, as the incident had left him unsettled in his home. Coincidently, the property he was moved to had become vacant due a separate investigation from the community safety team, as we had identified that the previous resident was subletting the property unlawfully, resulting in their eviction.

Thanks to the swift action of police, with our support, those responsible were sentenced to three years in prison.

Suspected cuckooing?

Signs that 'cuckooing' may be going on at a property include:

  • An increase in people entering and leaving
  • An increase in cars or bikes outside
  • Possible increase in anti-social behaviour
  • Increasing litter outside
  • Signs of drugs use
  • Lack of healthcare visitors

Report here.