Five regional police and crime commissioners have written to letting agents highlighting the problems of cannabis farms in private rental properties.
The PCCs from Wiltshire, Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset and Gloucestershire, have urged letting agents and housing companies to identify and report suspected cannabis farms, as well as writing to national governing bodies involved with landlords and home lettings to raise awareness - asking for greater collaboration to fight cannabis cultivation in communities.
An exercise known as Operation Scorpion is focusing on the supply chain by organised crime groups and associated crime, in particular cannabis cultivation.
The letter advises how to spot the signs within tenants and a property itself, including:
- Asking for complete privacy - requesting no periodic inspections;
- Blacked out windows and frequent visitors throughout the day and night;
- Light source coming from a property even during the night;
- It also explains how letting agents and housing companies have a legal obligation to report any concerns, what information should be reported and how to file a report.
The letter to agents says: “Communities where drugs are cultivated and dealt are simply fed up with the misery this type of crime brings to their doorsteps.
“Of course, we are all aware of the detrimental effects, misery, and harm that illegal drugs bring, not only to our wider communities but to those vulnerable individuals within society who are often forced, coerced, or exploited into conducting this illegal activity on the behalf of organised criminals. But unless it is happening where you live, day in and day out, you are extremely likely to be unaffected by it.
“Criminals target properties for cultivation and we are calling on all landlords, letting agents and housing companies to be wise to the types of activity that could be happening in their properties.
“This is why we must tackle the issue of cannabis cultivation head on, and this collaborative approach … reinforces the message that no matter where you live …there is no place for drugs.”