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What is cuckooing?

Cuckooing is an activity where people take over a person’s home and use the property to enable exploitation to take place. It takes the name from cuckoos who take over the nests of other birds. The most common form of cuckooing is where drug dealers take over someone’s home and use it to store or distribute drugs.

Norwich City Council’s role

As a landlord, our aim is to work with council tenants to help them sustain their tenancy. If we suspect that a tenant may be or is likely to be a victim of cuckooing, we will work to ensure that the tenant is given every opportunity to engage with support.

In some situations, tenancy enforcement action, community protection notices or other enforcement may be necessary.

We work closely with the police and other agencies to keep neighbourhoods safe, this includes listening to residents’ concerns and finding opportunities to enhance safety measures in areas experiencing issues.

Types of cuckooing 

There are different types of cuckooing:

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

People who seek to exploit someone will often target the most vulnerable in society, establishing a relationship with that person to access their home.

When they have gained control over the victim – whether through drug dependency, debt or as part of their relationship – larger groups will sometimes move in possibly involved with county lines.

Threats are often used to control the victim.

It is common for drug dealers to have access to several cuckooed addresses at once, and to move quickly between them to evade detection.

Signs of cuckooing

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

  • an increase in people entering and leaving, often at strange times
  • An increase in antisocial behaviour 
  • An increase in cars or bikes outside  
  • An increase in litter outside 
  • Damage to a door/a door propped open
  • Unknown people pressing buzzers to gain access to the building
  • You haven't seen the person who lives there recently 
  • The person who lives there seems anxious or behaves differently 

What to do if you suspect someone is a victim of cuckooing 

Please report any concerns as follows:

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