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A prisoner in my own home: "Cuckooing" case study

It all started when a friend of mine asked if I would let a couple of his friends stay at mine as they had nowhere to stay for a night.

He didn’t say much about them and I didn’t really think much of it, I trusted my friend and thought it would just be for one night.

They arrived a couple of days later, two of them, they looked quite young, probably aged in their late teens. They knocked at the door and I let them in. They didn’t say much other than that someone said they could stay at mine. They were friendly at first but after a few hours, their demeanour changed.

They told me not to answer the door to anyone, they would instead. And if I wanted any visitors, I was told to tell them to go to the back of the building and speak to them through the window.

They then took over my bedroom and refused to let me in it. Instead, I was forced to stay in the rest of the flat. My flat was small and it restricted me massively. They wouldn’t let me sleep in my own bed, I had to sleep on the sofa.

After the first night, I thought they’d be leaving, but they didn’t. This made me more uncomfortable and worried. I started to notice some of their activities – they were in and out of the flat, taking turns. They would come and go throughout the day and night, but at all times one of them would stay at the flat making it difficult for me to leave.

I noticed that they were carrying machetes whenever they went out. When it was obvious that they weren’t leaving the following morning, I told them that they couldn’t stay any longer.

They refused to leave, telling me that they would stay as long as they wanted.

I know they were dealing drugs from my flat – it was obvious. They were often passing packages between each other, had huge amounts of cash on them and were frequently using their mobile phones. Often their phones would ring and shortly afterwards one of them would leave the flat – it was obvious they were going to do a deal.

It was obvious to me they were dealing drugs. I didn’t get any drugs from them, but I know of other people who have been ‘cuckooed’ and they often receive drugs from people like these two, in return for allowing them to stay.

I asked them to leave a second time, but they still refused, I then got a phone call off another man. He told me they were staying for a few more days, and I couldn’t do much about it. When I told him I didn’t want them in the flat, he just laughed.

In the end, they stayed for about five days. In that time, I felt like a prisoner in my own home. They ate my food, used my electric and slept in my bed. I was isolated from friends and family, and although they didn’t threaten me directly, I was scared as they carried machetes with them all the time.

They finally went out of the flat together and I took the opportunity to get out myself.

I waited over a week before I went back. When I finally dared to go back, there was no sign of them, thankfully.

I was too scared to report it to the police and I didn’t think they could do anything about it. I didn’t even know their names or where they were from.

I won’t make any formal complaint against them though, due to the fear of retribution.