Written 21st March 2013 by Olliers Solicitors

It was reported in the BBC yesterday that cannabis scented scratch and sniff cards are going to be posted to 210,000 households in an attempt to assist individuals to detect cannabis farms growing.

Crimestoppers Campaign

The campaign is to be run by Crimestoppers who are of the opinion that the cards will assist individuals to recognise the smell of cannabis and report any suspected cannabis farms to police.

Founder and Chairman of Crimestoppers, Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC said:

“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.”

Cannabis Farms

Crimestoppers stated that there has been a 15% increase in the number of cannabis farms found in homes between 2011 and 2013. Between 2010 and 2012, 1600 farms were uncovered in West Yorkshire, more than 1200 farms in London and more than 800 farms in the Greater Manchester area.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) lead for drugs, Andy Bliss, said:

“Closing down cannabis farms and arresting the criminals who run and organise them is a key focus in drugs policing. This is because we recognise that these farms are often run by organised criminals but also because they bring crime and anti-social behaviour into local communities causing real harm and leaving people feeling unsafe.

“We also know that many people don’t realise that the empty, run down house or flat on their street with people coming and going late at night may actually be a commercial cannabis farm. It’s not just the stereotype of the remote rural set or disused industrial estate unit. The Crimestoppers campaign will help members of the public to recognise the signs and smell of a cannabis farm. The police will use the intelligence generated by the campaign to help build on recent successes in tackling this issue”.

The red and black coloured cards are being distributed to 210,000 homes. The cards release a scent when scratched which attempts to replicate the smell of cannabis during the growing state.

Crimestoppers Director of Operations, Roger Critchell said:

“We are distributing “scratch and sniff” cards because not many people know how to recognise the signs of cannabis cultivation happening in their neighbourhood. Many are also not familiar with the established links between this crime and serous organised crime”.

“Cannabis farms make everyone a victim. Is organised crime running a cannabis farm in your neighbourhood?”.

It was reported that the initiative began in Holland approximately three years ago. Whilst many people are familiar with the smell of cannabis, it remains to be seen whether this initiative will lead to an increase in the detection of cannabis farms.

Ruth Peters

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