Signs to look for to protect vulnerable tenants from Cuckooing

Cuckooing and County Lines


You may have heard a lot about this in the news lately and rightly so.   Cuckooing is happening in Cardiff now!  For those of you who have never heard of ‘cuckooing’ It is a crime where a drug dealer befriends a weak, old or otherwise vulnerable person then takes over their home and uses it as a crack house.  Just like a cuckoo, the dealer moves in, takes over the property and turns it into a drugs den.

County Lines means that drugs are brought into an area and sold by county lines.   ‘Going county’ means groups or gangs using young people or vulnerable adults to carry and sell drugs from borough to borough, across county boundaries. It is a tactic used by groups or gangs to facilitate the selling of drugs in an area outside of the area they live, reducing their risk of detection.

Recently, some staff attended training in conjunction with South Wales Police to discuss how to detect, report and share any concerns that we may have for clients or their neighbours.  South Wales Police realised that that they needed housing providers help be their eyes and ears as we know our tenants and properties best.

We feel that this problem is too important not to share with others that may rent or lease other homes not with Calon Residential Leasing. Alternatively you may not rent your property, but may know someone that does. It would be good if you could have a discussion with them about what to look out for!

Did you know that?

  • Gangs are exploiting children to deliver drugs from the bigger cities i.e. Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool to South Wales using intimidation, violence, debt bondage and/or grooming.
  • Adult drug users and vulnerable females are also exploited for their properties or to assist with dealing in their local area.
  • Although not a driving factor, there is a clear link between County Lines and Child Sexual Exploitation

So who is most at risk of being ‘cuckooed’?

  • Those that have previous experience of neglect, physical or sexual abuse
  • A lack of a safe/stable home environment
  • Social isolation and or economic vulnerability
  • Homelessness or an insecure housing situation
  • Connection to other people involved in gangs
  • Having a physical or leaning disability
  • Resident in social housing, particularly young females with children
  • Having a substance misuse or mental health issues
  • Being a ‘looked after’ child, particularly in residential care

We were told some frightening facts. Gangs from London, Merseyside and Birmingham are operating in the South Wales force area and that these gangs are well established. These gangs have recently begun to establish themselves in other local force areas.  We were told that Cardiff is the fastest growing city in Europe so it’s rich pickings for county lines and cuckooing.

There are escalating levels of violence in certain areas of Cardiff which have resulted so far in 3 murders already this year.  The tension between local groups and external gangs is increasing with more frequent reports of violent ‘turf wars’ and stabbings. Open street dealing has increased with ‘quality of life’ issues such as anti-social behaviour increasing. There is more discarded drug paraphernalia and on street sex markets.

South Wales Police have assured us that county lines and cuckooing is at the top of their priorities. They’ve recently  been working on an operation to prosecute a lot of people but as soon as they do this, because county lines is such a good market model, there are people queuing up to fill their boots, so it’s a constant fight to stop this.

If you have any suspicions, anything at all, please ring South Wales Police on 101. They have dedicated teams working on trying to stop this happening in our communities but can only do this with everyone’s help.

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