Controversial police sale goes ahead

By Danielle NuttallCrime CorrespondentSPECIALIST plant-growing equipment, confiscated by police and then controversially put up for sale, has been bought by a garden nursery.

By Danielle Nuttall

Crime Correspondent

SPECIALIST plant-growing equipment, confiscated by police and then controversially put up for sale, has been bought by a garden nursery.

There had been concerns the equipment, often associated with the cultivation of cannabis plants, might be used for illicit purposes when sold on by Suffolk police.

But the lot - which included heating lamps, seed trays, refraction sheets and reservoirs - was bought at an auction in Ipswich yesterday by Stephen Wright, who owns Dairy Farm Nursery in Bramford.

The hydroponics equipment went under the hammer at Websters Auctions at noon and was bought for £450.

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Mr Wright said it would have cost him at least 10 times more than that if the equipment had been new.

“We propagate a lot of plants, hops against other things. As long as the police check up it's gone to a sensible purchaser, I cannot see any problem at all,” he added.

“We are always buying this sort of thing and for me it was an opportunity to buy it for a very good price.

“It is difficult putting it in a public auction, though, that might be asking for trouble.”

Suffolk police regularly sell unclaimed goods or items seized from criminals and said they would destroy any items that could not be used legitimately.

The majority of the proceeds from yesterday's auction will be donated to local charities and community groups.

But the move caused controversy with one anti-cannabis campaigner saying the items should be destroyed rather than sold on.

It was also criticised by Mark Bond, who was bidding for the equipment yesterday to sell on as part of his Internet business.

“The police have got all this out of the war on drug crime and they know where it's come from, obviously a drugs bust,” he said.

“They confiscated it and probably charged the people who were in possession of it and have the audacity to put it in here to make money. The police should have crushed all this to bits.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk police said: “Material sold at auction must have a legitimate purpose or it would not be sold, but destroyed.

“Hydroponics equipment is legitimately used by growers of a variety of plants and is available from plant nurseries throughout the country. Police regularly sell unclaimed items and goods seized from convicted criminals at auction.

“The proceeds of these sales are placed into the Police Property Act Fund. A percentage of the money raised at auction is then recycled back into the community through police support for local groups and charities.”