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Operation Trespass: Ending cuckooing across Essex

Last updated by on Friday, May 14, 2021

Operation Trespass: Ending cuckooing across Essex


Vulnerable people in Essex are being targeted by County Lines drug gangs who take over their homes and use them as bases for drug dealing. The tactic, known as cuckooing, sees the gang manipulate vulnerable people to gain access to their properties; often specifically targeting those with drug and alcohol addictions, financial problems and learning difficulties.


Gang members will then move into the victim’s home and use it to facilitate crime and exploitation, including storing, converting or dealing drugs. Victims find themselves trapped, threatened by the gang, and unable to see a way out. In some cases, they have abandoned their homes entirely and ended up living on the streets.


The Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit wants to raise awareness of cuckooing amongst the public and front-line workers. This month they are launching Operation Trespass. This will see 50,000 leaflets and posters go out to community partners, police stations and to victims of cuckooing and their neighbours. The material will describe the signs of cuckooing and tell people who to go to for help.


Spotting the signs

  • You may see people you wouldn’t expect to see at a neighbour’s premises.
  • Are there more people staying there than there should be?
  • Is the property a mess?
  • Is the owner guarded and fearful when talking?
  • You might go to an old person’s house and see things that seem out of place; trainers, Coke cans and McDonald’s wrappers. There might also be signs of drug use, signs of money and mobile phones.


It is hoped that Operation Trespass will help the public to spot the signs and look out for their neighbours. By educating and informing the public, it will be much more difficult for the drug gangs to work their way into the homes of the vulnerable.