Beds Police shuts down 'cuckooing' flat in Leighton Buzzard

Beds Police has shut down a flat in Leighton Buzzard that had become ‘a breeding ground for crime and anti-social behaviour’.

The flat at Merlins Court, off Beaudesert, was understood to have been taken over by drug dealers, who were said to have exploited the resident’s vulnerability in order to use the home as a criminal base.

The flat at Merlins Court

The flat at Merlins Court

This practice, known as ‘cuckooing’, is being tackled by Beds Police in a crackdown across the county.

On June 26, officers secured a three-month closure order on the flat at Luton Magistrates’ Court.

A Beds Police spokesman said: "We were able to obtain a three-month partial closure order on a property in Merlin Court, Leighton Buzzard, following complaints of anti-social behaviour and drug use.

"We worked with partners to safeguard the occupant of the address who, along with council officials and emergency services, will continue to have access to the address, but no other person will be permitted."

One relieved resident told the LBO that “a cloud has been lifted”, saying: “We can finally start to enjoy our homes again and not worry who is lurking about at night.”

Merlins Court is 27-flat sheltered accommodation unit run by Central Bedfordshire Council and it largely caters for elderly residents, with a small number of younger adults with special needs.

In March, the LBO exposed the drugs “terror” taking place at the home, with residents claiming that CBC had lost control of the facility.

Access keys had been cut and visitors were reported to be ringing the buzzer at all hours, some carrying weapons and screaming abuse. A brick was thrown through one elderly man’s window last year, “showering him with glass” as he lay in bed.

A source told the LBO: “There have been people with machetes, baseball bats and knives.

“Residents have had beer cans thrown at them and have cleaned blood off the stairwells.”

MP Andrew Selous stated he was “flabbergasted” by the situation at Merlins Court and wrote to CBC and Beds Police last year urging them to take action.