Clients who are victims of County Lines drug gangs, are being urged to speak to their workers in North Yorkshire Horizons hubs to get help.
Workers across the county have been attending awareness courses run by police to learn more about how drug dealers seek out vulnerable people and move into their homes to use the properties as a base for their illegal activities.
Jenna Wing, of Horizons, in Harrogate, said: “This is a national problem. And North Yorkshire is not escaping it.”
She explained drug gangs are expanding from cities, often crossing county lines, or boundaries, into smaller towns.
They find vulnerable people and use their homes, in a similar way to how cuckoos take over other birds’ nests.
Jenna said: “It’s absolutely terrifying for people who are targeted. The gangs take over people’s homes to sell drugs from them. The gangs are physically violent – they bully and coerce clients into selling their drugs for them.
“Please report it”
“If this is happening to you or someone you know, please report it. The police will protect you and make sure you are safe.”
Horizons workers support clients who are the victims of cuckooing by informing police when they suspect or have had reports that a client is being exploited by a county lines gang.
Workers support police on days of intensification to check in on clients where there have been suspicions that they are being exploited by gangs.
All Horizons workers are aware of the issue. Amanda Lowe, Lead Practitioner at the Skipton hub, said: “In Skipton, workers attended a number of events aimed at raising awareness of the County Lines problem.
“We got to speak to individuals potentially at risk of being targeted. Responses where really positive with those we spoke to around protecting themselves and their local community.
“Information leaflets where given out on how to speak out if you or someone you know is being targeted. Information leaflets are available at the Skipton hub with all the team being aware to speak with service users who may be at risk as everyone has the right to feel safe wherever they live.”