Camden police inspector warns of drug dealers ‘cuckooing’ – taking advantage of the borough’s most vulnerable

Police raid a property on Isledon Road N7 during a Section 23 drugs warrant on May 17, 2019. Stan th

Police raid a property on Isledon Road N7 during a Section 23 drugs warrant on May 17, 2019. Stan the Police sniffer dog arrives to search for cash, drugs and guns. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

One of Camden’s top police officers has warned members of the public to be on their guard for drug dealers “cuckooing” – taking over the homes of vulnerable individuals as bases to sell substances from – in the area.

Police use a rapid entry team to gain access to a property on Isledon Road N7 during a Section 23 dr

Police use a rapid entry team to gain access to a property on Isledon Road N7 during a Section 23 drugs warrant on May 17, 2019. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Inspector Dave Hodges, who leads neighbourhood policing in the north of the borough, said he was keen locals understood the practice, and that they knew what his officers were doing to tackle it.

Insp Hodges told this newspaper: “It’s something we’re seeing a lot of but I’m not sure there’s much awareness of in the community.

READ MORE: WAC ARTS: LETTER SLAMMING CHARITY’S BOARD COMES FROM ‘PLACE OF DESPAIR’“It’s something that can particularly affect elderly and vulnerable people. It can be something as simple as someone knows a drug user who has got a flat, they [drug dealers] might give them a few rocks, and before you know it there’s someone coming back to that flat, and it becomes somewhere safer for them to deal from than on the streets. Then the victims don’t have the power to do anything, because of violence, or using drugs.”

Cuckooing, named for the bird which takes over the nests of other birds, can cause further social problems in the estates where it occurs, Insp Hodges said.

He added that it was a particularly worrying practice because those at risk included people who may be living with mental health problems – and he asked the public to look out for those who may be vulnerable.


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The inspector said his officers were tackling the problem, adding: “We are closing them as they pop up. It’s a huge effort. In the last few months we have really focussed our resources.

Insp Hodges also spoke of the consequences for neighbours living near cuckooed addresses. He said: “It’s got a huge knock-on effect – these addresses have lots of anti-social behaviour, drug use, violence. They are really causing harm.”

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Camden and Islington BCU Commander Ch Supt Raj Kohli reference the issue at a meeting of Camden Council’s Covid-19 oversight and scrutiny committee in July – he said the lockdown had actually seen him able to use more resources to tackle longstanding crime issues proactively.

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