Almost 90,000 cannabis plants were seized by Greater Manchester Police last year – making the region pot capital of England and Wales.
Home Office figures reveal that 89,011 plants were recovered in 2011/12, a 31% increase from 2010/11 and more than 10,000 above second-placed West Midlands (78,795).
Nationally, 612,373 plants of the Class B drug were seized, meaning Greater Manchester accounted for 14.5% of the overall figure with just 4.7% of the population.
Detective Inspector Steve Earnshaw, of GMP’s Drug Unit, claimed that the statistics showcased the hardline police approach to tackling cannabis abuse.
“I am pleased with the fact that we have the highest number of seizures in the country,” he insisted.
“It demonstrates the excellent work we are doing to successfully locate and identify cannabis farms and then take the drugs off the streets.”
Greater Manchester’s 31% increase has bucked the national trend, with England and Wales as a whole experiencing a 16% drop from the previous year.
The statistics, released yesterday, showed that in 2010/11, 729,502 plants were snatched, yet in 2011/12 this figure fell to 612,373.
Recoveries of cannabis resin are also up in Greater Manchester, with police seizing more than double the quantity of 2010/11.
GMP snatched control of 222.2kgs in 2011/12, compared with 105kgs the previous year.
However, herbal cannabis recovery plummeted dramatically, with just 189.8kg seized compared with 1,020.2kg in 2010/11.
Both cannabis resin and herbal cannabis seizures were above the national average, though way behind leaders the Met (1,141.3kg) and Norfolk (828.6kg) respectively.
However, DI Earnshaw added that such scoops are only part of combating the drug supply.
“We do not think that our fight against the supply of drugs ends with drug seizures,” he said.
“Major operations have led to drug dealers being brought to justice and we have also pursued criminals by seizing their assets through Proceeds of Crime legislation.
“As ever, these successes would not have been possible without the help and support of the communities that we serve who have given us information about drug dealing where they live.”
DI Earnshaw also emphasised that Greater Manchester Police were well aware of the relationship between drug dealing and other crime.
Statistics released last month showed that only the Metropolitan and West Yorkshire police forces have a higher rate of recorded crime than Greater Manchester’s.
The region’s rate of 76 offences per 1,000 people accounted over 200,000 crimes, with robbery and fraud particularly prevalent.
“We recognise links between commercial cannabis cultivation with organised crime groups,” said DI Earnshaw.
“By combating the supply of drugs, we are also making our communities safer.
“Drugs are a major driving force behind many other crimes such as burglary, robbery and vehicle crime, and that is why we are determined to root out all those involved in this trade.”
If you have concerns about drug dealing in your area, call the police on 101, or independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.