Cuckooing drug dealer jailed after taking over woman’s home

July 13, 2023

A drug dealer who took over a woman’s home and left her in fear of her life has been sentenced to two years in prison after admitting to multiple charges, as the cuckooing survivor is supported by Justice and Care.

A criminal named Paulo controlled the woman’s movements and beat or threatened her whenever she refused to supply drugs from her home.

The defendant pleaded guilty to blackmail, actual bodily harm and theft this week after the survivor bravely worked with Sussex Police to secure justice.

‘Cuckooing’ is an integral part of the criminal model run by county lines gangs and sees them take over people’s homes against their will to store and often distribute drugs, cash and weapons.

The British government recently announced plans to crack down on the vile act, which is not currently a criminal offence, following campaigning from Justice and Care – although it remains to be seen what form the clampdown will take.

The survivor in this case struggles with drug addiction issues and was introduced to Paulo through other users.

He offered her drugs in return for her dealing on the streets for him and then exploited her by taking over her home.

Three weeks after they met, the woman’s step-mother contacted police to report she was being assaulted.

Officers found the terrified survivor distressed and suffering from injuries and Paulo, from Portugal, was later located and arrested.

The survivor is now in a safe location and has been supported by a Victim Navigator to engage with other support services to help with her addiction issues. 

Cuckooing is on the rise, reports suggest, and Justice and Care has supported survivors in all parts of the UK.

During a national week of police enforcement action on ‘county lines’ drug dealing in March 2022, 799 cuckooed addresses were visited. A similar week of action in October 2021 saw 894 cuckooed addresses visited.

There were 316 recorded instances of cuckooing in London alone in 2022, up from 79 in 2018, according to new figures requested by London Labour.

Polling by Justice and Care and the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has found that one in eight people have seen signs of cuckooing in their communities.

Justice and Care and the CSJ have been calling for cuckooing to become a modern slavery offence for nearly two years now.

In March, the government announced it would be tackling cuckooing ‘by engaging with stakeholders on the scope of a potential new criminal offence’.

Be the first to hear

From invitations to powerful stories, our emails are packed with news that you won’t want to miss.