Cannabis calls grow during Derbyshire police’s drug cultivation campaign

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A police campaign urging people to report suspected cannabis farms in their neighbourhood saw a spike in calls to Crimestoppers.

Weed It Out asked members of the public to be on the lookout for telltale signs of cannabis farms in their area, such as run-down properties where visitors appear at all times of day and night, and a sickly-sweet smell in the area.

Throughout the four-week campaign, Derbyshire police discovered 26 residential farms, where drug dealers grow cannabis in houses or flats before selling it on.

The independent charity Crimestoppers also saw calls relating to cannabis cultivation in Derbyshire almost double, from 11 in the month prior to the campaign to 21 during it, while residents continued to report their suspicions directly to police by calling 101.

Those calls helped police identify farms across the county - some of which were searched and resulted in arrests and seizuers of cannabis plants and growing equipment.

Officers will now be gathering more information before executing further drugs warrants to clamp down on the crime.

Steve Holme, Derbyshire Constabulary’s expert on drug production across the county, said: “The aim of the campaign was to tell people that having a cannabis farm in your neighbourhood can have a massive impact on your quality of life.

“These farms not only make the property run-down and an eyesore, but they attract a great deal of other crime right to your doorstep.

“This can range from burglaries and theft as drug abusers are drawn to the area, to organised criminal groups targeting each other’s farms.

“We wanted to show people the signs to look out for and to tell us if they saw any – and we had a fantastic response.

“The information vigilant members of the public gave us will help us continue to fight this type of crime and make sure that cannabis production and the criminality that goes with it is stamped out.”

Commercial premises are being used less frequently for growing cannabis while there has been a significant rise in the number of houses being turned into drug farms.

In 2012, 203 cannabis farms were found in Derbyshire, containing a total of 11,522 plants.

Police have discovered 57 farms in the county so far in 2013.

Mr Holme said: “Even though the four-week campaign has ended, we will still be working just as hard to cut cannabis farms out and to do that, we still really need the public’s help.

“Those telltale cannabis farm signs don’t stop with the campaign so if you see them, please call us on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously.

“We act on the information you give us and it’s crucial that we continue to get it, so please remain vigilant and help us get ride of this crime from your neighbourhood.”

The signs of a cannabis farm in your neighbourhood include:

A strong and sickly sweet smell that may be covered up with creosote or paint;

Cannabis growing equipment such as lights, fertiliser and cables being moved into or out of a property;

Constantly covered or blocked off windows at the front and rear of a property;

Visitors at unsocial hours and few sightings of the occupants of the house;

Strong and constant lighting throughout the day and night;

High levels of heat and condensation, visible on the windows;

The constant buzz of ventilation.

If you want to speak to a police officer confidentially, call Derbyshire police on 101. You can also call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.