At a time when police at East Area Command have closed and dismantled 72 cannabis factories over a six-month period, officers are asking ‘would you know if there was a cannabis factory next door?’
There are a number of signs to look out for:
Bright light – The cultivation of cannabis plants requires a LOT of light running at around 12 hours per day. The lights are incredibly bright so a tell-tale sign is any property where windows are constantly blacked out or curtains that are never opened.
Fans/Ventilation – The farmers need to ventilate the plants they are cultivating and they do this using large extractor fans which make a low humming sound. Routine use of a fan such as this, particularly in autumn or winter, would be an indicator that a cannabis grower may be operating at the property.
Smell – While it takes three months to grow a crop of cannabis, it is during the final month that the smell becomes overpowering – it is pungent and quite literally stinks.
Comings and goings – Many cannabis farms don’t have anyone living at the address; be aware of people coming and going at strange times and not staying for long.
Detective Superintendent Paul Trevers, said: “The efforts of East Area Command to suppress violence are ongoing and the closure of multiple addresses being used for the purpose of cultivating cannabis is another example of the fantastic work our officers and staff are doing on a daily basis.
“We are hearing of more and more cannabis factories, and I am convinced of the links to organised and violent crime which impacts on our local neighbourhoods as well as those vulnerable people who become caught up in the wider drugs trade and people trafficking operations.
“I urge everyone who lives, works or visits our three boroughs to report any suspicions of cannabis factories. We will quickly determine whether criminality is taking place at the address and, in our continued drive to suppress violence, will deal robustly with the offenders and with the landlords where it is appropriate to do so.”
Detective Sergeant Owen Morgan, of the East Area Command Drugs Focus Desk, said: “We have seen an increase in the number of cannabis factories throughout the pandemic and are working hard to identify and dismantle them.
“We have significant concerns that growers tamper with the electrical supply at the venue and this, combined with the chemicals used in growing the plants, can be a significant danger to neighbouring properties.
“Cannabis growers are in constant fear of being robbed by other criminals who want to steal their crop. For this reason they often increase security on the address which may include additional locks, grilles and even CCTV cameras.
“In addition to all of the above, the cultivation of cannabis fuels organised drug-related crime and drug use – both of which can seriously reduce the quality of life for local people.
“It is clear that a cannabis factory is not something that you want in your street where you may be living, working or raising a family.
“If you believe that there may be a cannabis factory operating close to your home please don’t ignore it. We understand the sensitivity around reporting a neighbouring property to police – if you don’t feel comfortable speaking directly to an officer please make the report 100% anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers, but don’t wait until you are effected by their crime, make the call now.”
Anyone who thinks they may know of a property operating as a cannabis factory should call police on 101 or speak to their Neighbourhoods Police Team – their contact details can be found by visiting www.met.police.uk and entering your postcode or ward in the ‘Find your area’ section.