Five cannabis factories located in Southampton in March 2021
Alert message sent 09/04/2021 09:09:00
Information sent on behalf of Hampshire Constabulary
Last month (March 2021), officers located five cannabis factories in Southampton.
The cannabis factories were located in Denzil Avenue, Burgess Road, St Andrews Road, Cranbury Avenue and Romsey Road.
An estimation of the total number of plants seized in these address is 830 with an estimated combined street value of £628,000.
A total of 15 people have been arrested, nine of which have been charged with offences.
It took a large amount of resource over a significant number of days to dismantle these properties and make them safe.
Chief Inspector Ricky Dhanda said “We know that a lot people think it’s just cannabis. We have heard people say if it were legalised, all these problems we talk about would go away. It is not for us to get into debate about the law, and whilst the production and supply of cannabis is illegal, people are victims of serious harm, and people suffer – which is something that we cannot ignore. It is vital we take action in order to reduce drug related harm and the associated crime to help keep our communities safe.
“The production of drugs is linked to hidden harm and large scale operations like these are often run by organised crime groups. Those groups are likely to engage in very serious violence involving weapons, such as firearms. They may also take advantage of vulnerable people, exploiting them or making them work in servitude. The money made by these groups is reinvested into other crimes, weapons, and firearms that blight our communities and cause serious harm – so the seizures we make are important. The true cost of just recreational drug use can be incredibly damaging to someone else’s community, someone else’s life.
“The electrical requirement to grow this many plants is also really dangerous and can be a huge fire risk, putting neighbouring properties, and lives in danger.
“It is also linked to anti-social behaviour, like drug-related activity in your neighbourhood, which can cause misery to local communities.
“For these reasons, it’s not just cannabis, it’s linked to serious criminality and serious harm which we are not going to ignore.”
Part of our ongoing work to tackle this is to also remind landlords of occupied and unoccupied properties to make sure you know what is going on inside your rental properties. Criminals will do what they can to avoid being caught, so they try not to use their own houses to grow, store or even deal drugs from. They can reduce the risk of getting caught by using a rental property instead.
Landlords can face serious repercussions if their tenant is using a rental property as a cannabis factory. They could face prosecution, a jail sentence, or even have their property seized.
Landlords often suffer property damage too, including ceilings and walls knocked through, wiring ripped out, floorboards removed, furniture destroyed and water damage. A cannabis factory in the property also significantly increases the risk of fire or explosion.
Making regular visits to the property throughout the tenancy is generally best practice, but not always guaranteed to deter. Here’s a few tips on some of the things you can do to avoid people using your property to carry out criminal activity:
• Performing thorough checks on potential tenants is one of the best ways of avoiding this situation.
• While a credit check can help landlords gauge whether a tenant is likely to be able to pay their rent, it can’t tell them other information, like whether the potential tenant is part of an organised crime group. An increasing amount of landlords are proactively harnessing the power of tenant history reports, to find out more about a potential tenant's rental history and character before tenure.
• Be extra cautious when you have a potential tenant who wants to move in quickly and as an inducement, they may offer to pay 6 or 12 month’s rent in advance. This is when some landlords do not carry out credit or reference checks and drop their guard
• If the tenant is too keen to take up the tenancy without really checking the property you are letting, then be very cautious
• You may wish to request to visit the prospective tenants at their current address if they are living in the locality
• Check the documents you are being provided by the tenant to see if they are forged. Any doubt, request advice from the police
• Do not accept cash for the rent or the deposit, seek payment through a standing order
• Visit the property two weeks after the applicant moves in to ensure the person who is renting it is living there. Sometimes criminal use a ‘front couple’ who disappear after the rental agreement has been made
• Check your property regularly
• It is also a good idea to make sure that your insurance covers for malicious damage, so that you would be covered should you need to make a claim for damage caused by tenants
We are really keen to hear from people who suspect there is cannabis cultivation or drug related activity going on their neighbourhood.
Every call you make to us is logged and helps us build up an intelligence picture about what might be happening in your community. This allows us to take action and prevent your neighbourhoods from harm.
1. There's a strong, sickly smell. It might sound obvious, but most cannabis grows are discovered by passers-by or keen-nosed residents catching a whiff of the drug's familiar smell.
2. High levels of condensation. Landlords might notice damp on the walls or peeling wallpaper, while from the outside a neighbour might spot condensation on the windows, even when it's not the depths of winter. The condensation may well be due to inside having been turned into a makeshift greenhouse.
3. Constantly covered or blacked out windows. Do they have the curtains drawn all day long? Or have they put black-outs over all the windows? It might make it look like the house is unoccupied, but blacked out windows could well mean inside is really, really bright with all those strong lights.
4. Cannabis growing equipment transported to and from the house. Thousands of pounds worth of equipment is often needed for large-scale grows - have you seen lots of things being delivered to the house, or large items being taken in or out?
5. Constant buzz of ventilation. If you can hear the constant noise of a fan, at all times of the day or night, chances are it could be acting as ventilation for the cannabis grow.
6. Strong, constant lighting day and night. Cannabis needs light to grow, so watch out for homes with bright lighting at all times of the day and night. Lights will often be on a timer switch, coming on in the middle of the night.
7. Lots of power cables and rocketing electricity bills. The lights, dehumidifiers and heaters take a lot of electricity. Growers will often hack into the electricity wires before the meter to that individual house, and so bypass having to pay for the electricity. If you are a landlord who gets a copy of the bill, has it dropped suddenly, or gone up suddenly? If you are a neighbour and your bill has rocketed – maybe your next door neighbour has hacked into your mains and you're paying to grow their drugs?
8. Heat, birds on the roof, and a lack of snow. Cannabis factories produce a lot of heat, which can cause tell-tales signs, especially in winter. When it snows, the roofs of cannabis farms can be obvious as the snow melts, meaning it is probably the only house on the street without a snow-covered roof. Birds also like roosting on a nice warm roof...
9. Unsociable comings and goings. Are there lots of unfamiliar faces turning up at the house at any time of the day and night? It could just be a popular family, but maybe it's something more sinister.
Message sent by
Sarah Cartwright (Police, Corporate Communications, Hampshire)