Police reveal how virus lockdown identified ‘cuckoo’ drug dens
PUBLISHED: 07:36 14 June 2020 | UPDATED: 09:02 14 June 2020
Coronavirus lockdown restrictions have revealed drug dens which police did not know existed.
Officers in Felixstowe have been able to identify “cuckoo” addresses – where drug dealers have moved in and taken over the homes of vulnerable people.
Police received complaints about certain properties from neighbours concerned at the large number of people visiting the homes when Covid-19 restrictions demanded people stay in their own homes.
Insp Soraya Francis, from the South East Locality team, said four cuckoo addresses had been identified at the resort and dealt with during the past two months.
She said the increase in uncovering drug activity was also due to an increase in response officers now based in Felixstowe working hard and tackling the situation.
Two groups of county lines gangs from the south of England had been found operating in the town – taking over addresses of vulnerable people. The people whose homes had been invaded were now being safeguarded and looked after, she told Felixstowe Town Council.
Insp Francis said: “It’s been a bit easier because of the lockdown. We did have people ringing police quite quickly saying there are lots of people going in and out of addresses.
“We visited all of those. We had a huge amount of breaches of Covid-19 – it was as a result of those breaches that we found these addresses which we had no idea about before.”
She said the tenants involved were vulnerable for a variety of reasons, including mental health problems as well as drug addiction.
She said: “We deal with it incredibly quickly with safeguarding put in place if the person is living alone. We have a system where each shift an officer will go to visit the person at the cuckoo address and keep checking on them – they are quite happy to have the police knock on their door three times a day. One address we checked 45 times during May.
“The authorities are reluctant to move people around because of the lockdown but the people involved are safeguarded and we move quickly because of that situation and because there are drugs stored in these properties and we have used search and seizure powers, too.”