Hundereds of residents are being urged to shop their neighbour if they believe they are growing cannabis as the police step up their efforts to put drug dealers out of business.
Crimestoppers has distributed 1,000 “scratch and sniff” cannabis cards in the Illingworth and Mixenden areas - Calderdale’s so called cannabis hot spots - so residents know what the drug smells like and can report anyone they believe is growing it.
The police-backed initiative, which was rolled out across West Yorkshire yesterday, comes as latest figures show that in the last 18 months police investigated 135 cases in relation to cannabis production and 393 for possession.
Bryan Dent, Force Drugs Co-ordinator, 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.”
Residents have been warned that cannabis cultivation has a negative impact on the safety of communities and individuals, and it often goes hand-in-hand with other crimes, such as violence, firearms offences, human trafficking and modern slavery.
Crimestoppers Director of Operations, Roger Critchell, said: “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.”
Landlords and letting agents, meanwhile, have been warned they could face prosecution if cannabis is being grown in their building. The value of their property could also be significantly reduced, while cannabis farms pose serious fire risks.
The packs contain the cards, which will help people recognise the sickly sweet smell of cannabis, and information on what to do and who to contact if they suspect someone is growing the drug.
Anyone who suspects cannabis is being grown in their area is asked to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.