Police launch cannabis campaign

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Scratch and Sniff: New campaign targeting Cannabis farms in the UK

Scratch and Sniff: New campaign targeting cannabis farms in the UK

Scratch and sniff cards will be sent to thousands of households on Merseyside as part of a campaign to help locals detect cannabis farms.

The cards, by independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers in conjunction with Merseyside Police, intend to target cannabis cultivation by alerting people to its smell.

Merseyside is one of a number of hotspot areas in the UK to trial the postalcampaign, after 900 cannabis farms were found in the region between 2010 and 2012, contributing to a national increase of 15%.

The cards, which will be delivered to residents in areas where the force has uncovered the largest numbers of cannabis farms, contain an element that replicates the smell of cannabis when the plant is in its growing state, which is a different to when it is being smoked.

In addition, neighbourhood officers will be reinforcing the message with a ‘pop-up cannabis farm’ that shows passers-by what a cannabis factory can look like and gives them a chance to view the kind of equipment commonly used by criminals.

Superintendent Paul White said: “We are increasingly finding higher numbers of smaller scale cannabis farms set up in houses and flats rather than industrial units. This means that drugs are being grown right amongst us and, collectively, the public and the police need to stand shoulder to shoulder and root these drugs gangs out.

“The scratch and sniff cards and the 3D pop-up shop are great ways at telling the public what to look out for when they are out and about where they live. A distinct smell, sealed up windows, tampered with electrical wiring, delivery of gardening equipment, visitors at all times of the day and night – these may not seem significant individually but together, this may be a clear sign that a drugs gang is operating on your doorstep.”

Merseyside Police describe other signs which may suggest a cannabis farm is situated nearby, including a strong and sickly sweet smell, large amounts of cannabis growing equipment, constantly covered up or blocked off windows, visitors or deliveries at unsociable hours, strong and constant internal lighting 24 hours a day, high levels of heat and condensation, constant buzz of ventilation and lots of cables and unusual wiring.

Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC, Founder and Chairman of Crimestoppers, believes there is a correlation between drug use and criminal activity: “Cannabis farms grow more than just drugs. Those who are cultivating cannabis tend to be involved in other areas of crime and are often involved in related gang crime and other violent crimes involving firearms.

“These individuals use violence and intimidation to carry out these crimes and endanger the lives of those around them. We want to help put an end to this and the funding that cultivation provides to serious organised crimes like human trafficking and gun crime.”

Crimestoppers is asking members of the public to pass on any information about cannabis farms anonymously by telephoning 0800 555 111 or using an anonymous online form via the charity’s website.

About Joshua Killner, JMU Journalism