Over the last six weeks, police in Northamptonshire have been busy busting grows on cannabis farms and in empty buildings and the local police chief is thanking the public for their assistance.
Northamptonshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Simon Blatchly told The Northampton Chronicle & Echo that the phone has been ringing more than usual this summer, informing officers of the whereabouts of potential illegal grows.
“One positive we’ve had in the lockdown is we’re getting more reports from residents about all sorts of criminality,” said Blatchly.
“The actual farms have been a combination of criminals growing their own at houses to sell but we’ve also had these very large and industrial-scale growths.”
Police say they have seized more than £1 million worth of cannabis in the last two months, across multiple locations, leading to a number of arrests.
The crackdown is part of a 100-day campaign focusing on “hidden crime” such as sexual exploitation, child exploitation, drug dealing, domestic violence, and cuckooing, defined by police as moving into the home of a vulnerable person to use it as a base for drug dealing or other crimes.
Blatchly said some of the busted grows have been the result of cuckooing.
“Some criminals will have exploited the lockdown to begin these farms but some have been in place from well-before March,” he said. “Sadly, some are also because of crimes like cuckooing and taking advantage of vulnerable people.”
Blatchly said there is a need for “high-profile policing” to make sure criminals don’t plant roots in the community.
“It’s about not letting people move into this area. We are really keen that we don’t allow drug-dealing to get a foothold in the county,” he said.
As part of the crackdown, the police are running a “see the signs” campaign, encouraging the public to report suspicious behaviour.