A new weapon has been unveiled in the fight against drugs production in West Lancashire communities.
West Lancashire Community Safety Partnership is distributing scratch and sniff cannabis cards to borough residents. They can use the card and information provided with it to alert the police to suspicious activities which may indicate that a property in their area could house a cannabis farm.
If they then think there is some suspicious activity they can contact the police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
The cards have been created by the Crimestoppers organisation and have been a big success in other parts of the country. After they were launched in March 2013 Police forces in other parts of the country and Crimestoppers saw a big increase in calls from the public giving information about cannabis production. One force said 34 cannabis farms were closed after the launch, while another said at least 25 cannabis farms have been identified as a result of the campaign.
Christina Shorrock, West Lancashire geographic Police Inspector, said: “Cannabis isn’t the harmless drug people often think it is. Organised crime gangs that grow it often bring crime, violence and intimidation into your neighbourhood. Cannabis farms are not good for anyone.
“Gangs don’t want to draw attention to the houses or flats they use as farms, they are often quiet and unassuming. They look just like your home at first glance. A big clue that there is a cannabis farm is the sweet, sickly smell the plants give off. It’s not harmful but it is a good sign there is a cannabis farm on your street. The scratch and sniff cards will assist members of the public to recognise that distinct smell.
“We will take robust action against anyone involved in drug-related criminality.”
Dave Tilleray, Community Safety Partnership chairman, said: “Cannabis production increases the amount of drugs on our streets. The police often find culprits bypass electricity meters, which places their lives and the lives of their neighbours in grave danger. So if you do suspect anyone is involved in this activity please call the police.
“West Lancashire Borough Council, Lancashire Police, and other community safety partners take this crime very seriously and we are always looking at new ways of tackling the problem. These scratch and sniff cannabis cards have been a big success in other areas and we believe they will also be extremely helpful here.”
Councillor David Sudworth, portfolio holder for Community Safety, said: “Cannabis production has links to organised crime, including burglary, human trafficking, kidnap, violence, and the use of firearms. It causes major problems in our communities, including increased crime and violence.
“The Police, the Council and community safety partners have had some success closing cannabis farms, but with the help of the community we can do so much more. Please use these scratch and sniff cards to help us crack down on cannabis production to help keep our streets safe.”
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