POLICE today waged a new war on drugs after a rise in the number of cannabis factories.
In Lancashire Police’s Western Division – which covers Blackpool and Fylde – police uncovered 20 cannabis farms between July and December last year compared to 16 from January to June.
Officers from the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (Titan), alongside the six regional police forces – including Lancashire – are launching a month-long operation today to crack down on cannabis cultivation across the region.
Det Chief Insp Tim Leeson, of Lancashire Police, said: “My appeal to the community of Blackpool is that if they see empty properties, whether they are hotels or houses, if they see people going inside with fertiliser, trays and rakes, that should ring alarm bells.
“These are the pieces of equipment people may use to cultivate cannabis. If people are concerned, contact the police.
“Officers in Blackpool will then respond back to us at headquarters about the number of warrants we are executing.”
Gouqing Zhang was sentenced to 15 months behind bars last month after police discovered a cannabis farm on Shaw Road, South Shore.
The 51-year-old was found tending to 450 cannabis plants.
A cannabis factory with an estimated street value of £14,500 was also uncovered by police in a former Blackpool hotel on Kirby Road, previously the Glendene Hotel in January last year.
During this month’s operation, there will an increase in police activity to raise awareness of the problem and highlight the dangers of cannabis cultivation.
Officers will also be working with utility companies, garden centres, DIY stores, fire services and the Royal Mail to help them to spot the signs that cannabis is being grown and the typical equipment being bought by criminals for cultivation.
Det Chief Insp Leeson said other forces have seen a trend where criminals choose to cultivate cannabis in bedrooms instead of large units.
He added: “One of the things we want to achieve is to stop that trend of activity moving into Lancashire.”
Anyone with information about cannabis cultivation is asked to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.