Big rise in Suffolk cannabis factories

CANNABIS production in Suffolk's home-made drug factories has increased by 80 per cent in just three years, police have revealed.

Colin Adwent

CANNABIS production in Suffolk's home-made drug factories has increased by 80 per cent in just three years, police have revealed.

During raids on domestic premises in 2007/8, 1321 plants were seized from a total of 21 crimes, where ten or more plants were confiscated.

This compares to 2004/5, when 734 plants were seized in relation to 13 offences.

Officers said an increasing number of cannabis 'factories' are being uncovered in Suffolk.

In the latest case which is still being investigated, two men - a 32-year-old and a 28-year-old - were arrested on suspicion of producing cannabis after police executed a warrant at Gipsy Lane in Frostenden, near Halesworth, around 9.40am on Tuesday.

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Nine large cannabis plants were seized, along with a quantity of cash, growing equipment and associated paraphernalia.

The suspects were also interviewed regarding the abstraction of electricity offence at the property.

Both have now been bailed to return to Halesworth police station on March 2.

The properties being used as cannabis factories are often suburban houses, rented for the specific purpose of doing so.

The interiors are stripped out and plants are grown under hothouse conditions, crammed into every room of the property, from lofts to cellars and even toilets.

On average, around 400 plants are discovered in a property.

Robin Pivett, Suffolk Police drug reduction and prevention officer, said: “When drug criminals operate out of rental properties, the local neighbourhood suffers, and property managers and landlords often pay a high price.

“The reputation of the landlord or property manager can be affected, other property owners may be reluctant to place their properties with the rental company, and a huge amount of damage is caused to the property often costing thousands of pounds to repair.”

He added that many properties were also a potential hazard because the electricity had been tampered with.

Many of the factories are detected after members of the local community raise suspicions, but landlords and property managers can also help to crackdown on this illegal activity.

Are worried about the increase of cannabis factories? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

TO help combat the spiralling drugs trade a new guide called 'Keeping illegal drugs out of rental properties' has been produced by Suffolk police.

It is being hand-delivered to letting agents and landlords countywide, giving an opportunity for them to gain one-to-one advice from Safer Neighbourhood Team officers.

The guide urges landlords to look out for tell-tale signs that their house or building is being used for the production of drugs such as cannabis.

If you require a copy of the guide, or suspect that a premises is a cannabis factory telephone Suffolk Constabulary's drug reduction and prevention officer on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.