West Yorkshire Police is raising awareness of the link between serious and organised crime and cannabis farms.
The force is holding a Cannabis Farm Awareness Week all this week and is asking people to report any information they may have – either about people dealing the Class B drug or where a cannabis farm might have been set up.
Det Supt Fiona Gaffney, who leads West Yorkshire Police’s Programme Precision – the response to serious and organised criminality in the county, said: “The phrase we often hear is: ‘It’s just a bit of harmless weed’ but the impact of cannabis is considerable.
“Cannabis factories and farms are often linked to the vile crimes of human trafficking and modern slavery – crimes which literally trade in human misery.
“Victims forced to work in the factories often do so for little or no money, with few personal freedoms and under the threat of other criminals looking to steal the product.
“Cannabis farms are often centres of anti-social behaviour too – and this can impact greatly on the quality of life for other people in the area.
“People associated with a cannabis farm are often involved in other forms of criminal activity including dealing in Class A drugs which, in turn, can attract other forms of serious and organised criminality such as firearms offences.
“As a force we are doing what we can to bring offenders to justice and last year we dismantled 1,013 cannabis farms across West Yorkshire.
“And that is why we are holding our own Cannabis Farm Awareness Week – to help inform our communities about the risks and dangers of cannabis farms and to encourage people to come forward with information.”
A short video helping explain the issues around cannabis farms has been produced and is being released on the force’s social media channels.
Accompanying it are posters and leaflets which give some suggested signs of a potential cannabis farm. These will be distributed throughout the communities of West Yorkshire.
The force is also working closely with landlords to help advise them of potential signs to spot and to warn of the potential dangers of having a tenant who engages in this type of criminality.
- Strong odours – Cannabis crops take around three months to grow, odours can be potent in the final weeks.
- Covered up windows – Curtains always drawn up or windows covered/boarded up from the inside.
- Excessive security measures – Excessive security measures such as extra locks or grilles on windows.
- Lots of condensation – Cannabis plants need a greenhouse like environment to grow. Look out for condensation on the windows, especially in the summer months.
- Lots of visitors – Frequent visitors at unsociable hours.
- Resident only visiting address twice weekly – Some cannabis growers are extremely organised and only tend to the plants a couple of times a week.
- Plant growing equipment – Look out for potential growers taking lots of plant growing equipment in and out of properties, such as soil/fertiliser and plant waste.
- Lot of cables and wiring – Cannabis farm set ups require lots of cables and wirings for all the equipment. If wires are still hanging from ceilings/walls after a week, this may be a sign of a grow.
- Excessive electricity bills (For Landlords) – Have the electricity bills suddenly spiked or dropped? It may be likely that the tenants are fiddling with the meter.
- Snow – Cannabis farms produce a lot of heat. Be wary of a property without a snow-covered roof.
- Bright lights day and night – Cannabis plants need light to grow, look out for properties with bright lighting.
- Buzz of ventilation – The constant noise of a fan could be for ventilation for cannabis grows.
- Vulnerable adults – Sometimes foreign nationals are forced to tend to cannabis farms and are victims of human trafficking/modern slavery.
If you have information about cannabis dealing/production in your area call 101 or online via www.westyorkshire.police.uk/101livechat
Alternatively you can call the independent crime fighting charity, Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.