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Issue 9 | 29th September 2023

Hello and welcome to your L&D Newsletter.

Happy Friday. You have made it through the week and now the weekend is yours to enjoy!! If you would like anything added to the newsletter then please do let us know at

In this weeks newsletter we are going to be taking a look at exploitation and Cuckooing. Cuckooing is when criminals take over the home of a vulnerable person and use it for criminal purposes such as dealing drugs. The term comes from the behaviour of cuckoo birds who take over the nests of other birds.

When the criminals use the victim’s property for criminal enterprises, the inhabitants become terrified of going to the police for fear of being suspected of involvement in drug dealing or being identified as a member of the group, which would result in their eviction from their property. Some vulnerable adults may be forced to leave their homes, making themselves homeless and leaving the gangs free to sell drugs in their absence.

What is cuckooing?

Signs that Cuckooing may be happening at a property:

  • An increase in people entering and leaving
  • An increase in cars or bikes outside
  • Possible increase in anti-social behaviour
  • Increasing litter outside
  • Signs of drugs use
  • Lack of healthcare visitors
  • Suspicious vehicles, or people at an address
  • A neighbour has not been seen for a while, or they are more distanced than usual (with more visitors)
  • Short term or holiday lets – unusual activity
  • Older member of the community unexpectedly driving around unknown individuals.

How does cuckooing start?

A gang member may begin by befriending the vulnerable adult. Gangs will select members who are charming and manipulative in order for them to quickly build a rapport. They may offer something of interest to the victim, this could be a relationship, friendship, drugs, alcohol, money or clothing. In exchange they may ask to 'borrow a room’, to store something or meet other 'friends' at the property. In some cases the gang may make it clear that this is for criminal purposes (for example, drug supply), or they may use an excuse as to why they want to use the property. Gradually the initial benefits originally offered will decrease. If the victim attempts to stop the cuckooing they will use threats or actual violence to silence them, The victim will be discouraged from seeing friends, family or support workers who may try to help.

Who are the victims?

Victims are vulnerable individuals, often drug users, but can include people who are;

  • Older
  • Living with mental or physical health conditions
  • Living with learning disability
  • Involved in prostitution
  • Single parents
  • Experiencing poverty
  • Isolated or living alone
  • Living with drug or alcohol addiction
  • Ground floor flat, close proximity to stairwell, or easy access
  • Spare Bedroom
  • Elderly or frail
  • Care needs.

NCLCC masterclass session delivered by Anne Rannard and John Aspinall looks to empower colleagues to understand what Cuckooing is, what you can do and how to collaborate and record information.

YouTube - CLCC Cuckooing Masterclass.

Controlling the victim

The criminals use the property to provide a discreet location out of sight of police from which to conduct their activity. They will use a range of tactics to control the victim. This could be pacifying victims using drugs. Once the ‘high’ wears off the victims want the criminals to leave, leading to threats or violence being used.

Once control is gained over the victim the group will often bring in other members of the group into the house making the group larger and gaining more control over the victim

The vulnerable person

Due to the presence of criminals in their home, alongside continuing threats and intimidation, it is extremely difficult for people who have been cuckooed to report the crime. It is essential to be curious and think critically about what you see. Some typical signs are:

  • Not engaging with services
  • May have unexplained injuries
  • Has paid off debts in full with cash
  • Misusing substances
  • Appears withdrawn and fearful of disclosing information
  • New, unidentified associates who are often present at the home
  • Has changed appearance, either wearing expensive clothing or appearing unkempt.

What should I do if I am worried that someone is a victim of cuckooing?

If you spot some of the indicators above and are concerned about someone you know who you suspect is being cuckooed, you need to report this to your line manager or designated safeguarding officer who will then advise about any onward referrals.

It is really important that this is all approached in a person-centred way and by keeping the potential victim at the centre of the multi-agency discussions and decisions:

  • What does the person want to happen?
  • What are the risks to the person?
  • What needs to happen to keep the person safe?
  • Who needs to be involved?

If possible, have this discussion with the person before making a referral – this will give further information and insight into the situation.

Making a referral

Partnership working is essential in effectively tackling cuckooing and to prevent reoccurrence. It’s important to Identify it as early as possible and ensure the nature of the ‘victim’ is recognised.

Worried that an adult is a victim of cuckooing, you can contact Greater Manchester Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency. You can also make a referral see this page on how to do this: I'm worried about an adult.

It is also important to involve the housing provider if this is a registered housing provider or the landlord if it is a privately rented property.

  • Further info: Programme Challenger CrimeStoppers 0800-555-111
  • Modern Slavery Helpline 0800-121-700
  • See also Programme Challenger - Cuckooing for more information.

Key messages

  • Cuckooing is when criminals use or take over someone’s home to exploit them
  • The criminal may present as a friend to the person, or make threats about if they report it
  • The person is often reluctant to want any action taking or to report it
  • The perpetrators may store drugs, weapons or drug money at the property or use it as a base for drug dealing
  • They may force the person to sell drugs for them to clear their ‘drug debt’
  • They may threaten or harm the person whose home they have taken over
  • Perpetrators will move from one victim to the next in a relatively small area, for example, targeting a block of flats or properties within a few streets of each other
  • Look out for reports of an increase in strangers, including young people coming and going at all hours, not seeing the person who lives there or seeing them looking stressed and anxious
  • If the tenant avoids appointments or disengage with the service – this is a serious cause for concern, and you should seek advice and consider making a referral.

Training Opportunities

ICON Week 2023

The third annual ICON week (25 to 29 September 2023) is here to raise awareness of infant crying and how to cope to support parents/carers and prevent serious injury, illness and even death of young babies as a result of Abusive Head Trauma that happens when someone shakes a baby. The BSP is looking into a recent increase in the incidence of abusive head trauma in infants. All child facing services must complete this ICON training. You can find a short (30 minutes) online training here: ICON - eLearning. Use username ICON and Password ICONPORTAL20 to access. Anyone undertaking the training is asked to notify the BSP by e-mailing

See our latest news page for more information about ICON Week.

Home Fire Safety Assessment (HFSA) Training

A half-day session the Home Fire Safety Assessment (HFSA) Training Plus is delivered at the Safety Centre in Bury. It provides the same learning as option one but also provides learners with an immersive input on fire safety in the home, including the five main causes of fire, bedtime routines and escape planning. This is delivered in a mock home environment at the Safety Centre. Lunch is provided. View the available training dates and book a place on a session at EventBrite - Home Fire Safety Assessment (HFSA) Partner face to face training.

Complex safeguarding event

Please note date change. The day will now be running on the 20th October at the New Kershaw Centre.

Training Offer Citizens Advice Good Help

Citizens Advice has a training course for frontline staff working with vulnerable people and those likely to fall into debt.

This training provides some insight and practical tips and tricks for dealing with energy and debt queries you might get.

It aims to provide frontline staff or those with little or no knowledge of debt and energy advice with practical skills to better support and empower clients.

  • Friday 29th September - 1.30pm
  • Wednesday 4th October - 10am
  • Tuesday 10th October - 1.30pm

Any questions? Please email:

Motivational Interview Training

This takes place on 16th October 2023. Please complete the online form to book:

Free Online Domestic Abuse and Sexual Abuse awareness courses

This beginners training course is aimed at individuals in organisations and voluntary groups who work with adults to give a basic awareness of issues surrounding rape and sexual violence and domestic abuse.

Please visit: IDAS Online Training Courses.

The Ava Project

The Ava project have a range of online training and webinars that you can access. Some may be free at times however most appear to have a small charge of £15 to access. Course available include, Domestic abuse and child removal, Child to parent abuse, domestic abuse and substance misuse, managing the secondary affects of working with trauma. Visit E-learning AVA Project.

E safety Training

On 8th November 2023 please join us for E-Safety Training. The training will be from 9:15am to 4:15pm at the St Philips Community Centre in Radcliffe. Places are limited so please book here to avoid missing out.

In the news...

A quick round up of some safeguarding related stories that may interest you and help inform your practice. If you have any suggestions for articles to be published in this newsletter then email

A plumber “humiliated and degraded” his girlfriend by forcing her to walk with her head down in public to stop men looking at her... Yahoo - Controlling plumber removed mirrors from girlfriend's home and forced her to walk in public with her head down.

A survey of 2,000 victims in England and Wales between January and June 2023 found that four in 10 did not feel believed by police (see: The Independent - Victim blaming by police officers is harming rape investigations, report finds), while only 37 per cent said officers made them feel like they mattered (see: MSN - Three-quarters of rape and sexual assault survivors’ mental health harmed by police investigation.

What is the harm caused by regular exposure to hardcore porn? If the content regularly shows violent and degrading sex towards women... Irish Examiner - Holly Bourne: Porn is normalising violent sex against women. Why can’t we talk about it?.

Essential Parent website

An excellent resource for anybody working with parents: Essential Parent.

For more information contact

Take a break…

Take 10 minutes or so to learn something new…

  • A look at the differences between 'early help' and 'early intervention', and how a lack of shared understanding of these terms can impact the provision of support for families. See: NSPCC - Why language matters: what is meant by ‘early help’
  • Opening Doors: trauma-informed practice for the workforce NHS Scotland has created an animation to support the development of a trauma-informed workforce. It highlights the ways traumatic experiences such as sexual abuse and domestic abuse can affect people. Advisory: some people may find some of the issues discussed distressing. View: YouTube - Opening Doors.
  • Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events that affect children while growing up, such as suffering child maltreatment or living in a household affected by domestic violence, substance misuse or mental illness. This short animated film has been developed to raise awareness of ACEs The film has been produced for Public Health Wales and Blackburn with Darwen local authority. View: YouTube - Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)
  • The Bury Children’s Partnership weekly e-mail provides local, regional and national updates, resources and free training opportunities to help you support children, young people and families who you work with. You can find the latest edition here: Bury Council -  Children's Partnership weekly information