Thousands of scratch and sniff cards which smell like cannabis will be landing on residents’ doorsteps today to help catch criminals involved in growing the drug.
West Yorkshire Police are supporting a national campaign by the charity Crimestoppers for a second year, and are distributing 12,000 scratch and sniff kits in specific postcode and council ward areas.
These “hot spot” areas have been identified through information collected by officers, and previous cannabis-related crimes that have been committed there.
In Leeds 414 cannabis production offences were recorded from January 1 2013 to June 1 2014 with possession offences hitting 1,996.
In Kirklees, 160 production offences were recorded with 624 possession crimes.
The crackdown packs contain the cards and information which will help people recognise the sickly sweet smell of cannabis and what to do and who to contact if they suspect that someone is growing the illegal plant near where they live.
Cannabis cultivation has a negative impact on the safety of communities and individuals. The production of cannabis often goes hand-in-hand with other crimes ranging from electricity theft through to violence, firearms offences, human trafficking and modern slavery.
Landlords and letting agents also need to be aware of what’s going on in their own properties as cannabis farms can be a serious fire risk. Buildings can be in danger of collapse due to structural damage, as walls are often removed to make room for the plants. They may also see their properties reduce in value significantly, and could face prosecution.
Bryan Dent, Force Drugs Coordinator, said: “West Yorkshire Police have been very successful in the past in detecting cannabis production, and bringing to justice those who are involved in growing and distributing the drug.
“Our Neighbourhood Policing Teams are extremely pro-active, and have listened to and acted upon information given to them by local people who have raised concerns. We fully support this campaign which is an ideal opportunity for West Yorkshire residents to help improve their own communities. We take a robust stance against cannabis cultivation, use, and dealing to ensure our county remains a safe place and that our residents feel safer.
“Organised criminal gangs are often behind the larger cannabis farms and cultivation. This will be a warning to them and to anyone else who grows and sells this plant that not only are the police looking out for them, but their neighbours may be as well.”
Crimestoppers Director of Operations, Roger Critchell, said: “The scratch and sniff cards were well received last year, a fact that was supported by the increase in information we received in the weeks after the campaign launched.
“This is a crime that can lead to much more serious incidents which is why we feel it’s important to reinforce our appeal for information from the public. We’re not looking to target individual users, we’re looking at something much bigger here - something much more dangerous. We are targeting serious and organised crime groups who are involved in this illicit trade.”
Crimestoppers are encouraging anyone who may have suspicions that cannabis is being grown near to where they live to contact them anonymously on 0800 555 111. More information can be found at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.