Over the last month police forces across the UK have been conducting an extensive operation targeting cannabis production by organised crime gangs. It’s a huge problem and a blight on all society.

Hertfordshire Police alone issued over 30 warrants, this has led to 27 arrests, 9 people have been charged, and over 3000 cannabis plants along with the growing and production equipment have been seized. This will have a big impact on the production of cannabis across the county.

Police forces across the whole country are working together, sharing information and gathering intelligence to crack down on this type of crime. It is well known that many of these organised crime gangs are running cannabis production sites in several different parts of the country.  Communication between the various police forces and national agencies is helping to bring down bigger crime organisations.

The police are hoping that news of this operation, and the successful arrests of criminals involved in the production and distribution of this drug will raise awareness of cannabis farms within local neighbourhoods. Members of the public reporting suspicious behaviour will help considerably in the fight against drugs.

A cannabis farm is a danger to people living close by. The electrical equipment is often badly set up and can cause a fire, an explosion or electrocution.  There is also a greater risk of anti-social behaviour and violence in the vicinity.

SIGNS OF A CANNABIS FARM

  • A strong, sickly sweet smell is noticeable within the area.
  • The windows are always covered, night and day.
  • Bright lights showing through any gaps during darkness.
  • Lots of visitors coming and going, 24/7.
  • High amounts of condensation on the windows.
  • Noise from electric fans.
  • Large amounts of rubbish including garden compost bags.
  • Birds gathering on the roof in winter.

Landlords Beware

It has become apparent that many properties used in the production of cannabis are rented homes. Landlords need to be aware that their property could be used for illegal purposes. There are several extra warning signs to look out for when taking on new tenants.

Be suspicious if:

  • A tenant wishes to pay the rent upfront, several months in advance.
  • A tenant insists on paying their rent in cash.
  • The tenant is not prepared to allow you to visit.
  • Security measures are added to the property.
  • The cost of Utility bills fluctuates extensively.
  • Tampering of electrics is evident in the property.
  • You think the tenant may be sub-letting.

The cultivation of cannabis within a property is likely to result in a great deal of damage. There is a risk of fire from equipment or the possibility of an explosion. Electrical wiring is often ripped out of walls. A great deal of water is required for growing cannabis, this together with the heat from lamps creates a lot of dampness and mould. The criminals think nothing of removing walls and ceilings if need be. The cost of repairs can be staggering.

There are of course the legal implications if your property is being used for producing Cannabis. As a property owner, you could be prosecuted for production and supply, even if you are found innocent the legal costs could be extensive.

Taking simple precautions is advisable. Check all references with previous landlords or employers and look at recent payslips or bank statements.  Run a credit check with a credit reference agency. Ensure you make regular checks on the property and endeavour to engage with the neighbours of the property, so you know all is well.

If you suspect your tenant is growing cannabis, contact the police immediately. Do not under any circumstances approach the tenant or try to deal with it yourself, you are likely to put yourself at risk.