‘Cuckooing’ predators forcing their way into the homes of the vulnerable
Police have carried out a series of raids in Somerset this month, after concerns that criminals are forcing their way into the homes of vulnerable people to deal drugs.
Detectives say there has been a notable increase in the practice called ‘Cuckooing’, which much of it is linked to gangs in London.
Yesterdays dawn raids in Bridgwater saw 100 officers carry out an operation to disrupt out of town dealers, who’ve been turning other peoples homes into drug dens.
Chief Inspector Lisa Simpson, Avon & Somerset Police, told BBC Points West:
‘It’s absolutely covert as far as they’re concerned, because they can go behind closed doors. They can use, they can prepare their deals, they can invite people in.’
Often its neighbours who are the first to spot signs of trouble, where in one instance 30 people a day were spotted going in and out of one house, some with baseball bats.
One resident told Points West:
‘We are really afraid of something serious happening when this sort of thing goes on.’
A house in Yeovil was recently hijacked by drug dealers for 6 months, where locals counted 72 visits by addicts in one day.
Speaking to the next-door neighbour, they said:
‘It’s disturbing, it’s been hell. (It’s) Frightening just to see the pure volume of people that can go in and out of a home in one day. It’s been really difficult to get on with normal daily life.’
Points West also interviewed a tenant who’s home was recently taken over by drug dealers, who’s since received death threats;
‘They bang on your door and befriend you; at that time I was in a bad place.
They give you things, they’ll pay your rent – this that and the other. Then they’re in your house, they’ve got you.
They’ve got knives, they come down with guns.’
So as big city drug dealers bring more violence to our rural towns, police are now working with housing officials to protect those most at risk and they want the public to keep a look out.
Rob Semple, Sedgemoor District Council, told Points West:
‘(Look out for) Different people coming and going from the property that you don’t recognise, changes in behaviour of the resident. They might become quite reclusive but you see other people coming and going from the property. Or just seeing drug paraphernalia around the property, as well.’
With operations like this now a high priority, police here are also helping their colleagues in London to catch drug dealers who regard Somerset and the West Country as a soft touch.
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