Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service

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MFRS and Merseyside Police burn live cannabis farm to warn of dangers

MFRS and Merseyside Police burn live cannabis farm to warn of dangers


Wednesday, 18 October 2017


Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service has joined forces with Merseyside Police to spell out the dangers of cannabis farms.

Careless drug dealers are over-loading electricity sockets and watering hundreds of plants in residential and business premises, risking the safety of not only those inside the buildings but those in neighbouring properties too.

With 213 farms dismantled by police across Merseyside in the past 12 months and 19,720 plants seized, police are regularly taking the drugs out of the hands of criminals.

Every cannabis farm seized prevents their sale from harming our communities and lining the pockets of serious and organised crime groups.

Some have been discovered by firefighters who have attended fires at the properties only to find the cause was a recklessly constructed cannabis farm.

Neighbourhood police officers and Merseyside Police's specialist cannabis dismantling team (CDT) discover several cannabis farms every day in Merseyside.

To send a clear message to the organised crime groups behind the farms that the police will not tolerate the production and sale of cannabis on the streets of Merseyside, a mock cannabis farm was today set up and burned to show the dangers.

Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Green said: "We are already having great successes in uncovering cannabis farms every day as more and more people become wise to the tell-tale signs that there is one in their community.

"The public have been a massive help in telling us what they know and in return we have vowed to act on that information and take action against the criminals who are profiting from these farms.

"Cannabis is not a harmless drug. It is hugely profitable to grow and sell it and we know that organised crime groups set up and control these factories, often in the very heart of local communities.

"The knock-on effects can be devastating for decent, law-abiding people who live there, as rival criminals fighting for control of these farms bring violence and intimidation to the streets.”

On 17 August this year Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service were called to a large fire at a house on Wimbledon Street in Wavertree. On arrival a cannabis farm was found in bedrooms upstairs and the electricity was found to have been breached. The loft ceiling inside had collapsed but thankfully no-one was injured.

On 9 October, three people were arrested on suspicion of production of cannabis after a cannabis farm containing 63 plants with an estimated annual yield of around £250,000 was discovered in Cambridge Road, St Helens. The three arrested have been released under investigation.

On 6 October, 99 plants with an estimated annual yield of around £400,000 were seized from two addresses in Damwood Road and East Damwood Road in Speke

On the same date, October 6, Daniel Greenslade, aged 47, of Berrylands Road, Moreton was jailed for two years for production of cannabis and abstracting electricity after police executed a warrant at his house in January and found three rooms in his house had been converted for growing cannabis, with 147 plants recovered.

Merseyside Police and Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service set up the replica cannabis factory to show the potential dangers and hazards that exist inside a farm.

Det Chief Supt Chris Green added: "Many of these cannabis factories are death-traps and we are increasingly finding more in residential areas, right next to where other people live. Often the electricity supply has been tampered with and this, coupled with the heat lamps and water system, increases the risk of a fire breaking out inside. Given that these farms are often tucked away inside ordinary terraced and semi-detached houses, this is jeopardising people's safety.

"I would urge people to keep an eye out for certain tell-tale signs that cannabis may be grown where they live. Fresh cannabis has a more pungent, sickly smell compared to when it is smoked. Houses will often have the windows sealed with newspapers and foil to keep the heat in and prevent people looking in. People may suddenly visit at strange hours of the night to bring growing equipment in or to remove the drugs, yet in between it may seem like no-one lives there.

"If you see any of these warning signs and suspect there is a cannabis farm operating near you, it is in your interests to tell the police, anonymously if you feel more comfortable, and we will act on it."

Guy Keen, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service Area Manager for Prevention and Protection, said: "The risks around the use of cannabis are well documented though often the wider risks around the production of this drug in our communities are not fully appreciated.

"Cannabis farms are being set up in residential areas where innocent people live and they are putting people's lives at risk. They pose a serious fire risk as electricity meters are almost always tampered with to steal electricity, hot lamps will have been rigged up to simulate ideal growing conditions, and a watering system will also be in place.

"Safety devices, such as fuses and circuit protection, are often bypassed and sockets are overloaded. Fires can develop due to high-powered lamps being used in confined spaces such as bedrooms, lofts and basements and heat can build up due to a lack of ventilation.

"Over the past three years, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service has attended a total of 110 incidents involving cannabis cultivation – the vast majority being serious fires involving rented property. Last year we attended a cannabis-related incident almost weekly.

"We urge everyone to be vigilant to the signs of cannabis cultivation - strange smells and sounds, gardening equipment such as pot plants, fertilizer and lighting being taken in to a property, windows that are sealed and covered and birds gathering on roofs in cold weather – and report their concerns to Merseyside Police or Crimestoppers immediately.

"Cannabis cultivation poses fire and electrocution risks to householders, tenants, members of the public and firefighters and we are determined to highlight the dangers of this activity to help protect our communities and emergency service responders."

For more information visit https://crimestoppers-uk.org/get-involved/our-campaigns/national-campaigns/commercial-cannabis-cultivation/

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