Cannabis farms across East Lancashire have been targeted in a series of warrants which have uncovered nearly 300 plants worth in excess of £100,000.
Today, Friday 5 September, four warrants were carried out at addresses in Hermitage Street and Chapel Street in Rishton, East Lancashire. Ten plants were found at Chapel Street and six at Hermitage Street. Two women aged and a man are helping police with their enquires.
Over the past week a further four warrants have been executed with two in the Blackburn area resulting in the seizure of 52 plants in various states of growth. Two people are currently assisting police with their enquires.
The crackdown started in July when officers across East Division executed 15 warrants over the course of the month in the Blackburn, Burnley, Darwen and Accrington areas.
As a result they discovered approximately 210 cannabis plants in various stages of growth and 10 people were arrested and are currently on police bail.
Detective Inspector Simon Upton said: “This morning’s raids are part of our on-going commitment to tackling drugs. Cannabis cultivation, particularly commercial cultivation is a problem which affects all areas of the country but we’re determined to tackle it in East Lancashire.
“Cannabis cultivation feeds a multi-million pound black market in increasingly potent and dangerous cannabis, which can have lasting physical and mental health effects on users.
“It can also have such a negative effect on our communities, fuelling other crime, and instilling fear in our neighbourhoods and we are determined to tackle that.
“It is important that we work with communities to make sure that everyone knows what to look out for – from screened-off windows and unusual amounts of heat emanating from a property to signs of bypassing electricity meters.
“We need the public to continue to work with us to help us tackle drug crime by informing us of any suspicious activity.”
Today’s warrants are part of an ACPO-led “In Focus: Commercial Cannabis Cultivation” week, which is seeing forces around the country undertaking a mixture of communications and operational activity to encourage public awareness of cannabis farms in tandem with cracking down on them wherever they are found.
Following a successful campaign run by the charity Crimestoppers, supported by police, to help people spot the signs of cannabis farms, members of the public are now more confident to report cannabis farms.
Between January and June 2014 146 cannabis cultivation offences were recorded in Lancashire where there were five plants or more. 7077 plants were seized in total, at an approximate value of £400 per plant, this equates to £2,830,800 for fully grown plants.
As at the end of June, 62% of these cultivation of cannabis offences had resulted in a positive outcome; 39 resulted in a caution and 49 in a charge or summons. 32% (n=47) of crimes remained under active investigation.
In 77% of cultivation offences cannabis plants were grown in an occupied domestic dwelling. Cultivations of more than 50 plants are more likely to be located in rented and unoccupied dwellings, industrial units or derelict premises.
DI Simon Upton continued: “We are determined the bring the full weight of the law against those engaged in this dangerous and exploitative criminal activity, and we ask everyone to remain vigilant and, where you suspect anything, call us on 101 or, alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via their website at www.crimestoppers-uk.org”