POLICE in Llanelli have asked the community to act as their eyes and ears as a Cuckoo Watch scheme is launched in the town.
Officers have started an initiative to gather intelligence around cuckooing – a phrase linked with the County Lines drugs phenomenon, which sees members of gangs take over the homes of vulnerable people to carry out criminal activity.
Recent investigations have shown that gangs from outside the area will look for people who are vulnerable through substance addictions or mental ill-health, and use their home as a base to deal drugs.
Cuckoo Watch was launched in a Morfa street, where neighbourhood and engagement police teams met with members of the community and asked them to report any unusual or suspicious behaviour in an effort to flush these gangs out of the community.
Dyfed-Powys Police Partnership Chief Inspector for Carmarthenshire Jolene Mann said: “The aim of the scheme is to tackle drugs suppliers, who have come from elsewhere and set up in Llanelli. We’re visiting areas where it’s more likely that this activity will go on, and we’re making residents aware so they can keep an eye out for us.
“Our intention is to support and protect the most vulnerable in our communities by identifying those most at risk, and signposting them to the appropriate place to receive the help they need.
“We also want to identify potential addresses likely to be targeted by drug suppliers, and who intend to use this method known as cuckooing. We want to gather intelligence to support our policing objectives, and above all else we want to reassure the community that we are making all efforts and putting a lot of resources into tackling the issue of drugs, and in particular the supply, in our area.”
Police are asking anyone who comes across unusual behaviour in their community, or who becomes aware of people from outside the area moving in to someone else’s home, to report it immediately. This can be done by calling 101, or to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Ch Insp Mann added: “County Lines is here now, and that’s why we’re putting a lot of resources into tackling it. Enforcement has already taken place by police, but what we aim to do now is educate people and make people aware of it so they can keep a lookout.
“Perhaps they wouldn’t have understood it before, but the more we talk to people about it, the more chance we have of receiving information. The more information we’ve got, the more we can do to catch the people involved, and hopefully drive them out of our area all together.
“We can’t do this on our own. We need people to come together, to give us information hot – if you see someone who looks out of place, tell us.
“Everyone has a duty of care to look out. As police, we’re not everywhere at every moment. We just want people in the community to look out, give us information and we will do our jobs to the best of our ability.”