On the same day the national news headlines featured the seizure of £130 million in cannabis plants across the UK, the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SWROCU) was exhibiting at the Rent Smart Devon landlord event, Exeter Racecourse, to spread the word amongst landlords and letting agents about the dangers of cannabis cultivations within domestic properties.
Any property can be vulnerable to cannabis cultivation but there’s a concerning statistic that 94% of cannabis farms are located in domestic properties.
The SWROCU were one of many law enforcement agencies involved in the national operation targeting organised crime groups (OCGs) involved in growing cannabis. In the South West alone, the operation led to 67 arrests and £6.8 million worth of cannabis and weapons being seized.
OCGs involved in cannabis cultivation not only drive violence and antisocial behaviour in our communities, they also endanger the lives of people in neighbouring properties. Crucially, they exploit vulnerable people who are the victims of modern slavery, human trafficking, and organised immigration crime.
As well as actively pursuing the criminals involved, the SWROCU want to raise awareness of the hazards these growers pose by substantially increasing the risk of fires within properties. Often the electricity meter is bypassed, and electrical circuits overloaded to support the high-intensity lights, fans, and irrigation systems.
If you suspect your property may be being used to grow cannabis, ask yourself the following:
The consequences for landlords in both financial and legal terms by not taking action can be catastrophic. Therefore, it’s really important to report any suspicions you have about your own property or those in neighbouring premises to your local police force online or via 101.
If you would like to remain completely anonymous, you can report any information to the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org. The guarantee of anonymity means calls or online information can’t be traced and the only person who knows you called will be you.
Along with the South West’s five police forces and working with the Police and Crime Commissioners and independent charity Crimestoppers, SWROCU will continue to target and disrupt OCGs who are causing misery and harm in our communities, but they can only do that with the information provided by the community.
Article by the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SWROCU)