Cuckooing is a form of crime in which drug dealers take over the home of a vulnerable person in order to use it as a base for drug dealing, storing firearms,and other criminal activity. The crime is named for the Cuckoo's practice of taking over other birds' nest for its young. 

In Greater Manchester we recognise that the criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults is not only in relation to drugs but can include other forms of criminal activity, such as arson, violent offences, storing firearms and holding money, amongst other forms of criminality. We also know that young people and vulnerable adults are not always moved to towns outside of Greater Manchester and that the exploitation can take place within our boundaries. The movement of a person for the purposes of exploitation is detailed in the Modern Slavery Act 2015 as a form of trafficking and slavery. 

Cuckooing is a form of criminal exploitation. The criminals are very selective about who they target as 'cuckoo' victims and are often entrepreneurial. Victims of 'cuckooing' are often drug users, but can include older people, those suffering from mental or physical health problems, female sex workers, single mums and those living in poverty. Victims may suffer from other forms of addiction, such as alcoholism and are often known to the police. Dealers often approach the victim offering free drugs to use their home for dealing. 

Once they gain control, gangs move in with the risk of domestic abuse, sexual exploitation and violence. Children are more commonly moved in as drug runners, manning the drugs line, though adults are also used. 

It is common for gangs to have access to several addresses. They move quickly between vulnerable people's homes for just a few hours, a couple of days or sometimes longer. This helps the gangs evade detection. By cuckooing, the criminals can operate from a discreet property, which is out of sight, making it attractive option. They can use the premises to deal and manufacture drugs in an environment under the police radar. 

Drug dealers/Organised drug gangs do not care about who they are exploiting, help keep your community safe, everyone has the right to feel safe in their own home.

Please see our Trapped video

Spot the signs in your neighbourhood

  • usually takes place in a multi-occupancy or social housing property
  • an increase in number of comings and goings /people entering and leaving at all times of the day and night 
  • increase in cars or bikes outside - offenders will often have new vehicles outside the property, or frequently use taxis or hire cars
  • possible increase in anti-social behaviour in and around the property
  • increase in litter outside
  • disengagement with support services/healthcare services
  • the property may appear almost sparse of valuable possessions inside and go into a state of disrepair
  • signs of drug use

Spot the signs of exploitation and abuse

  • Do they suddenly have lots of new designer clothes, lots of money or more than one mobile phone?
  • Are they receiving more calls than normal?
  • Are they travelling alone to places far away from home?
  • Are they carrying or selling drugs?
  • Are they hanging out with someone that is older than them and controlling?
  • Do they have any unexplained injuries?
  • Do they seem very reserved and like they have something to hide?
  • Are they going missing from home or school?

What to do if you suspect cuckooing

  • If you think you have spotted someone being cuckoo'd 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, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111or use their online form
  • Contact the Modern Slavery and Exploitation Helpline on 08000 121 700 or use their online form 

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