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County lines and cuckooing

County Lines’ is a term used when drug gangs from big cities expand their operations to smaller towns.

A common feature in county lines drug supply is the exploitation of young and vulnerable people. In some cases, the gangs take over the homes of vulnerable residents as a base for their drug-dealing business.

This is known as ‘Cuckooing’. The term ‘cuckooing’ is taken from the Cuckoo bird who invades the nests of other birds and utilises it for its own purposes.

It’s common for gangs to have access to several addresses. They move quickly between properties for just a few hours, a couple of days or sometimes longer. This helps them evade detection.

Signs to look out for:

  • An increase in people entering and leaving the property often at odd times of the day and night
  • An unusually high number of vehicles outside the property for short periods– including bikes, taxis or hire cars.
  • Possible increase in antisocial behaviour in and around the property, for example, a build-up of rubbish in communal areas, increased noise and evidence of drug misuse.
  • Curtains or blinds closed all the time

If this is happening to you, or you are concerned about a friend or neighbour, call the police on 101 or anonymously to CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.


Further information about the types of antisocial behaviour:



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