Merseyside Police start 2
week crackdown on criminals growing cannabis
MERSEYSIDE Police have started a 2 week
crackdown on criminals growing cannabis across Merseyside. It will see the
Force, within all 5 areas (Liverpool, Knowsley, Wirral, Sefton and St Helens)
taking part and using warrants at properties across the county. Officers on foot
will be assisted by the Dog Section and the latest technology, while the
National Police Air Service will provide aerial assistance, with the Police
Helicopter, to spot suspect properties. Police will visit retailers such as DIY
stores and garden centres to raise awareness of the types of purchases made by
criminals looking to set up cannabis farms, such as large quantities of cannabis
and other growing equipment. Outlets selling hydroponic equipment, commonly used
for cannabis cultivation, will also be targeted. Officers will speak with
letting agencies and landlords, as many cannabis growers take advantage of short
term tenancy agreements to grow the drug. Unoccupied properties could be subject
to utilities being disconnected and other partner agencies will be educated on
the signs a cannabis factory is in a property.
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Richardson said:- "Criminal groups
involved in the cultivation of cannabis are usually involved in other serious
organised crime and use violence, intimidation and exploitation of vulnerable
people to keep their illicit businesses going. We know that disputes over the
supply of cannabis have been responsible for violent assaults and even shootings
so we are determined to take these farms out of action. They will often rent
residential and industrial properties in the heart of our communities, so our
focus over the next 2 weeks and beyond will be on those properties being used to
grow cannabis around Merseyside. We will have Officers on the ground and use the
latest technology available to us to find cannabis farms and execute warrants.
During the next fortnight, we will aim to disrupt the activity of criminal gangs
who are intent on bringing these highly dangerous farms into our communities. In
2015, our Cannabis Dismantling Team seized more than 25,000 plants from in
excess of 330 cannabis farms, so on average our Officers are attending around
one farm every single day. Each seizure represents money being taken from the
pockets of criminals. The growing of cannabis brings dangers to neighbouring
properties because cannabis farms pose a very serious fire risk. The people who
set up these farms often risk their own safety and that of their neighbours to
tamper with the electricity meters to steal electricity. There will generally be
a number of hot lamps hooked up to dangerously overloaded electricity sockets as
well as an extensive watering system. Clearly, electricity and water are never a
good combination, and the fire service have seen an increase in the number of
fires they have been called to as a result of fires caused by the crude systems
put in place by the people who set up these farms. These groups are only
interested in making money, and have no regard for the communities in which they
operate. The public can help us stop them from turning houses and flats into
potential death traps. Nobody wants to live next door to these houses and we
would ask that if you believe someone is using a property for this purpose,
please tell us so we can take positive action and find those responsible for
setting them up."
Some of the signs that cannabis is being grown are:-
► Strange smells and sounds.
► Frequent and varied visitors to a property, often at unusual times.
► Gardening equipment being taken into a property, such as plant pots,
fertiliser, fans and industrial lighting.
► Windows are sealed and covered or the curtains are permanently closed.
► Heat from an adjoining property.
► Birds gathering on a roof in cold weather.
► Individually these activities may seem commonplace, however, together may
indicate something more sinister.
Anyone with any information can call Police on:- 101, or Crimestoppers,
anonymously, on:- 0800 555 111.