Eighty cannabis factories closed down

Heart's found out loads of houses in our region are being used to grow the drug.

The National Landlords Association says about 98 percent of cannabis factories discovered by police are in privately rented accommodation.

In the last year, 67 of the factories have been found by Thames Valley Police, and officers in North Hampshire have shut down fifteen in Basingstoke.

Because of this, in Basingstoke have launched a  ‘Know Your Tenant campaign’ to give advice to landlords to help stop their properties being turned into cannabis factories.
 
A booklet entitled ‘Don’t Turn a Blind Eye – A landlord’s guide to keeping illegal drugs out of rented properties’ is being handed out to offer guidance to owners of privately rented houses.

To show you what the inside of one of these factories looks like, Hampshire Police have given Heart access to this video filmed after a raid:

 

Often, landlords are unaware of what their house has been used for and only find out when the police contact them about the activity taking place in their property.
 
Basingstoke and Deane District Commander, Chief Inspector Andy Bottomley, said:

“Many landlords rent their property in good faith and only discover it has been used as a cannabis factory when the police contact them.
 
“The booklet we have put together provides simple advice and guidance to landlords and urges them to be vigilant when renting out their properties.
 
“We also ask them to carry out regular checks to ensure their property is not being abused by criminals and to be suspicious if they are offered large, up-front cash payments.
 
“Landlords have a legal and ethical responsibility to help and protect the communities in which we live. If their properties are being used for criminal activity then the penalties can be severe. Landlords have a duty to report any illegal drug activity to police, or face the prospect of prosecution themselves.”

Chief Inspector Bottomley added:

“We know that many of the recent cannabis factories we have uncovered are linked to Vietnamese organised crime groups. 

“Cannabis factories are also illegal in Vietnam and those responsible are damaging the reputation of the Vietnamese community. If you have information about someone who is involved then tell us.  

“Cannabis factories are dangerous and pose a risk. We have seen cases where electricity metres are bypassed causing fires or power surges, which can impact on neighbouring addresses.

“It is really important that landlords and property managers act responsibly and know what is going on inside their premises, not just for the safety of their own property but also for the safety of people living nearby.

“Landlords and property managers should be aware that they could face a prison sentence if they knowingly allow drug production to take place in a property they own or manage.”

Cannabis factory facts:

  • The cost to landlords of abstracted electricity in a three bedroom house which has been converted into a cannabis factory is estimated at £30,000 per year
  • The average cost to make the property electrically safe after a factory has been found is £1,500.  This figure could rise depending on the time of day the work is carried out.  The landlord is liable for the entire sum.
  • These figures do not include the structural damage to the building itself. Large holes will be cut in walls and ceilings.  Roof supports are often removed to make way for large ventilation pipes.  In some cases buildings have been condemned and had to be re-built. Sometimes fires can break out as a result of bypassed electricity which can also affect neighbouring properties.

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