PROPERTY firms joined community leaders for a briefing on how to spot and sniff the signs of a cannabis farm, as part of a campaign to hunt down organised crime gangs.
Crimestoppers’ Durham board held a conference to bring together estate agents, parish councillors, housing associations and community workers, and show them the tell-tale signs a home is being used to produce the plants.
It follows a rise in the number of large-scale commercial grows across the country.
The production is linked to gang violence and intimidation, use of firearms, theft and a rise in energy prices, with around half the criminal groups in the UK involved in drug trafficking and distribution.
Susan Knaggs, chairman of the group, said: “We hope these people from our communities will take back the essential messages with them and know what to look out for.
“We have seen these gangs operating and cultivating in our region and these are organised crime groups, who come and run these, and will pay up front for months so the landlord doesn’t have to come and check, and it is these details which could help.”
Dave Hunter, regional manager for Crimestoppers, added: “Crimestoppers is focusing this campaign on those who produce cannabis on a commercial scale in order to use the profits to fuel further acts of criminality which destroy communities and people lives, and we urge members of the public to help combat this crime - anonymously”
Appointment cards printed with the campaign’s messages, funded by the High Sheriff Harry Vane, were handed out at the conference.
Crimestoppers can be called anonymously on 0800 555 111 or information can be passed on via www.crimestoppers-uk.org.