Scratch and Sniff
19 March 2013, 11:15
It's part of a national campaign by the charity Crimestoppers to try and tackle the production of cannabis in the UK.
There was a 15% increase in the number of cannabis factories discovered during 2011/12. Just over a hundred cannabis farms were discovered in Hertfordshire between 2010 and 2012.
Crimestoppers say the scratch and sniff cards will help educate and inform the public about the signs to spot and detect cannabis farms by recognising the specific smell of growing cannabis.
The UK National Problem Profile Report on Commercial Cannabis Cultivation, produced in 2012, found cannabis growers are using more residential houses to grow the drug, bringing organised crime into local communities.
It also says there has been an increase in property crime, violence and the use of firearms linked to cannabis farms, alongside the knock on effects of organised criminals using income generated from cannabis trafficking to fund a range of other criminal activities. As a class B drug, supplying cannabis in the UK can lead to a 14 year prison sentence.
Crimestoppers say the public often also suffer financially through increased energy costs as a result of cannabis farms. The amount of energy theft is unclear but OFGEM reports that some estimate it costs the UK economy around £400m per year. Currently, suppliers and Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) report 25,000 to 30,000 energy thefts per year, through methods such as altering meters causing increased energy prices for honest energy customers.
Tampering with electricity and the excessive use of high intensity lights also leads to increased risk of fire in these residential properties endangering the lives of those living in the surrounding areas of these farms.
Over the last two years police forces have seized over one million cannabis plants, with an estimated value of over £200m.