Around £1million worth of cannabis seized by police has gone up in smoke this morning.
Cleveland Police's Community Drugs Enforcement Team (CDET) tookthe cannabis from criminals across Teesside since July this year, as a result of intelligence from local communities.
Officers from the team burned the drugs at an incinerator in the Cleveland area.
Inspector Tony Cross, from CDET, said: “These drugs have been stopped from getting onto the streets of Cleveland and we have prevented one million pounds from getting into the pockets of criminals.
“The key to us being able to take these drugs off the streets is local communities that come forward with the information and report their concerns. For this, I would like to thank those that have come forward and I’d like to continue to urge the public to pass on any information that they may have about drugs activity to police or Crimestoppers.
“Today is a culmination of gathering that information and taking action against those that think that putting drugs into our communities is acceptable. It shows that it won’t be tolerated and that we take reports of drug activity extremely seriously.”
Cleveland Police has attended at least 140 cannabis farms across Cleveland so far this year.
Officers would ask that members of the public look out for these tell-tale signs of cannabis farmers in their local area and report any suspicions to them:
⦁ Smell - a cannabis crop takes about three months to produce. During the final four weeks, the plants have a strong potent smell.
⦁ Light - cannabis farms require lots of artificial light, so look out for windows that are blacked out or curtains that are never open.
⦁ Heat - the lighting will give off a lot of heat. Be aware of houses with no snow on the roof or condensation on the windows.
⦁ Noise - growers need to ventilate the plants with large extractor fans, which generally emit a continuous low hum.
⦁ Security - growers are always cautious of being detected. Look out for bars on the windows or doors and CCTV cameras.
⦁ Activity – setting up cannabis farms requires a lot of equipment. Be aware of people frequenting the property in possession of fans, plant pots, compost, bin bags and electrical equipment. This is usually during the hours of darkness and vans are usually used to load the heavy equipment. The farm also requires people to water the plants and remove the crops.
⦁ Lack of activity - Watch out for signs that there is no one actually living there, such as unkempt front gardens, or not leaving out any bin bags on collection day.
As well as affecting the lives of those in local communities, cannabis farmers often create fire hazards and put lives in danger by bypassing electricity meters.
Inspector Cross continued: “Cannabis farmers often have a blatant disregard for the safety of those around them. Their main concern is not getting caught so they will use means that they think won’t arouse suspicion or leave any trail which could identify them, such as bypassing electricity meters and paying landlords in cash for their rent.”
Barry Coppinger, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, said: “I attend regular community meetings and listen to the concerns of the public, and I know that drugs are a concern amongst some communities. I fully support any enforcement activity which takes drugs off the streets of Cleveland and makes our communities feel safer.”
Earlier this year, police encouraged owners of properties to be vigilant when renting to tenants they do not know, especially when they are offering cash payments. Landlords were urged to regularly check on their property and inspect it to ensure they are aware of what is going on inside.
Anyone who may have information about drugs activity in their local area is asked to contact the Cleveland Community Drug Enforcement Team on 101 or via their confidential line on 0800 0929 702. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
NOTE TO MEDIA: Media are invited to the SITA site on Haverton Hill Road in Portrack for interviews and to take photographs at 9.30am on Wednesday 7th December. The name and location of the site is not to be disclosed and the embargo is until 10am.