Cannabis scratch and sniff cards to help track down Devon drug farms
Marijuana-scented scratch cards are to be posted to hundreds of households in a bid to detect illegal cannabis farms.
This week Crimestoppers and police forces across the country will be distributing “scratch and sniff” cards to the public to educate and inform them about the signs to spot and detect cannabis farms by recognising the specific smell of growing cannabis. The cards contain an element that replicates the smell of cannabis in its growing state.
In January police officers stormed an Exmouth business unit and recovered about £200,000 worth of Cannabis plants.
Half-a-dozen officers raided the premises at unit 1A on pound lane after recieving reports about a strong smell coming from the building.
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The charity said there was a 15% rise in the number of cannabis farms found in homes between 2011 and 2012.
West Yorkshire police area had the largest number of cannabis plantations uncovered in the UK.
According to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), about 1,800 cannabis farms were found in the area by officers between 2010 and 2012.
South Yorkshire had the second highest number with 1,600 farms uncovered in the same period.
Cannabis farm hotspots include West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, London, where more than 1,200 farms were detected, Greater Manchester, which had 800 plantations uncovered and Humberside, where officers found nearly 300 cultivations.
Andy Bliss, from ACPO, said: "Many people don't realise that the empty, run-down house or flat on their street with people coming and going late at night may actually be a commercial cannabis farm.
"It's not just the stereotype of the remote rural set or disused industrial estate unit.
"These farms are often run by organised criminals [and] they bring crime and anti-social behaviour into local communities causing real harm and leaving people feeling unsafe."
Crimestoppers said growers were moving way from commercial and industrial properties and using homes to cultivate the plants.
The green and black cards release a scent that replicates the actual smell of cannabis during its growing state when scratched.
Roger Critchell, director of operations at Crimestoppers, said: "We are distributing scratch and sniff cards because not many people know how to recognise the signs of cannabis cultivation happening in their neighbourhood.
"Many are also not familiar with the established links between this crime and serious organised crime."