Landlords in Derry and across the north west are being warned about the growing number of tenants setting up cannabis factories in rented accommodation.
The PSNI’s Superintendent Chris Yates is asking landlords and local residents to be on the look out for the signs of cannabis cultivation - including blacked out windows and pungent smells.
“Previous investigations have shown that many of the properties used as factories for cannabis cultivation were in the private rental sector,” he says.
Police figures show that since 2009 both seizures of cannabis plants and the number of people charged with growing cannabis have been steadily rising in the north.
Between 2009 and the end of 2011 cannabis with a street value of more than £10million has been seized while almost 390 people have faced charges in connection with growing cannabis.
“Following the discovery of cannabis factories in other parts of Northern Ireland recently, we are keen to remind the public what they should be on the lookout for in their own neighbourhoods,” Superintendent Yates says.
“A significant telltale sign is the abstraction of large amounts of electricity which can present very real and dangerous risks.”
He says police do not want to alarm the public but says it is vital people are aware of the need to be vigilant.
“While we do not want the public to be overly alarmed we would encourage vigilance and ask landlords to make regular checks of their properties.
“Community support and the provision of information are at the heart of our drive to tackle drugs and related criminality across our District,” he says.