Updated: Monday, 13th July 2020 @ 9:36pm

Spliff busters: Cannabis farm tip-offs up 20% since GMP ‘Scratch and Sniff’ crackdown

Spliff busters: Cannabis farm tip-offs up 20% since GMP ‘Scratch and Sniff’ crackdown

| By Aimee Chester

Reports of cannabis cultivation have risen by 20% since Greater Manchester Police launched the second phase of the ‘Scratch and Sniff’ initiative, Crimestoppers have revealed.

Hundreds of scratch and sniff cards were delivered to drug hot-spots with the intention of familiarizing the public with the potent odour so they would be able to detect nearby cannabis farms

GMP was one of 17 police forces throughout the UK who took part in the slightly unconventional but evidently successful scheme.

Detective Superintendent Mark Smith from Greater Manchester Police said: “The Crimestoppers campaign has helped us greatly in our mission to destroy commercial cannabis cultivation - it has borne some fantastic results but the fight is not won just yet.”

Crimestoppers and Greater Manchester Police claim cannabis cultivation  is it often used to fund serious crimes, such as violent crimes and trafficking class A drugs.

Roger Critchell, Director of Operations for Crimestoppers said he was ‘delighted’ with the increase in information from the public.

He said: “The fact we have seen a number of cannabis farms closed down in the weeks after the campaign once again shows that when Crimestoppers, the media, and the UK public join forces, we really can make a difference and aid law enforcement in the fight against serious organised crime.”

The green A5 leaflets, which were distributed around Greater Manchester in early June, also contain details of warning signs for residents to look out for, including a ‘constant buzz of ventilation.’

Detective Superintendent Smith added: “To produce the cannabis criminals often rent residential properties such as flats or suburban houses and as a result may bring violent crime into law –abiding communities.”

The campaign is supported in its second year by a number of organisations directly affected by cannabis cultivation, including energy companies, Neighbourhood watch and the Chief Fire Officers Association.

Assistant County Fire Officer Peter O’Reilly from GMFRS said: “Over recent years firefighters from GMFRS have been called to tackle many fires that have started due to cannabis being grown and we want to remind people of the dangers they put themselves and members of the community in when they are involved in such activity.

In 2013, the cost of energy theft as a result of cannabis cultivation came to a staggering £70 million.

This is largely a result of cannabis cultivators tampering their electricity to maintain the huge lighting costs that are involved in its production.

Tony McEntee, head of supplier liaison for Electricity North West, said: “We will continue to crack down on energy theft as it is unacceptable that honest bill-paying residents across the North West are effectively paying for others to have free electricity.”

To report a suspected cannabis farm please call 101 or alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via their website at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

Image courtesy of Martin Vicente, with thanks.