In Gedling, a 54-year-old self-employed gardener was growing the crop with his friend; in The Arboretum area there was £12,000 worth of cannabis in a flat; and in Bulwell a bedroom was transformed into a mini cannabis farm.
But with ordinary homes being turned into makeshift cannabis farms, how do you know if a house in your street isn’t in fact a cannabis factory?
Police always need intelligence from the community, and with the guide below, you might be able to help clean up your streets by providing information that could lead to arrests.
Here are the top signs to look out for.
1. High levels of condensation
Are the windows always misted up? From the inside, 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. For the best plant growth, cannabis needs an atmosphere similar to a greenhouse, and this can cause a lot of condensation.
2. Strong, sickly smells
It may sound obvious, but most cannabis grows are discovered by passers-by or keen-nosed residents catching a whiff of the drug’s familiar smell. A cannabis crop takes about three months to grow and in the final weeks, the plants stink. Crimestoppers has previously sent out cannabis-farm scratch-and-sniff cards to more than 200,000 homes in the UK to help home-owners tell if they live close to a budding farm.
3. Constantly covered or blocked off windows
Do your neighbours have the curtains drawn all day long? It might make it look like the house is unoccupied, but having windows blocked up with panelling or sheeting would suggest there’s something they don’t want you to see. This could be a sign that there are many budding plants inside soaking up bright artificial light.
4. Excessive security
Growers live in constant fear that their home-grown farms will be discovered by police, landlords or rival drug dealers. If there are padlocks on the gates, massive grilles and double and triple locks on the doors, that should raise eyebrows – especially if the street is relatively safe. On bigger, high value farms, portcullises, bars on the windows and even CCTV cameras can be evident.
5. Lots of visitors – and at unsociable hours
Frequent and varied visitors to a property, often at unusual times, could mean you just have a popular neighbour with a big family. But if unfamiliar faces are turning up next door day and night, it might be a sign that there’s something more sinister going on. One thing to watch for is lots of new faces coming knocking.
6. Rocketing electricity bills
The lights, dehumidifiers, hydroponic systems and heaters take a lot of electricity. Many farms have been found where drugs gangs have hacked into the electricity wires before the meter to that individual house, and so bypassed having to pay for the electricity. If you are a landlord who gets a copy of the bill, has it dropped or gone up suddenly? If so, your neighbourhood growers could have tapped into your supply and are charging you to power their drug operation. You should contact your supplier and the police immediately.
7. Lots of power cables
With reference to the item above, this could be an indication of an awful lot of electricity needed in the property.
8. What happens when it snows?
Cannabis factories produce a lot of heat, which can cause tell-tale 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.
9. Strong and constant lighting day and night
It’s strange for anyone to need unusually bright lights on 24 hours a day. 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.
10. External modifications to the property, such as ventilation
Proper air flow is also needed to allow the plants to grow well, so additional ventilation could be an indication of this.
11. 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.
Cannabis is a Class B drug. Possession of a Class B drug is punishable by up to five years in prison, an unlimited fine
Police can also issue a warning or an on-the-spot fine of £90 if you’re found with cannabis.
Notts Police says that those who grow cannabis at home “must consider the impact and potential risks involved – not only to themselves and their own property, but also the wider neighbouring community.”
It adds: “Nottinghamshire Police is asking members of the community to look out for signs that cannabis growers are active in their neighbourhood.”
If anyone has any information about cannabis grows, they can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.