POLICE are hoping a new scheme will help to halt drug production in West Lancashire communities.
West Lancashire Community Safety Partnership is distributing scratch-and- sniff cannabis cards to people across the borough.
The idea is that people can use the card to recognise the smell and then alert police to suspicious activities which suggest a property in their area could house a cannabis farm.
If they then think there is some suspicious activity they can contact the police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
The cards have been created by Crimestoppers and have been a big success in other parts of the country.
After they were launched in March 2013, police forces in other parts of the country and Crimestoppers saw a big increase in calls from the public giving information about cannabis production.
One force said 34 cannabis farms were closed after the launch, while another said at least 25 cannabis farms have been identified.
Christina Shorrock, West Lancashire geographic Police Inspector, said: “Cannabis isn’t the harmless drug people often think it is. Organised crime gangs that grow it often bring crime, violence and intimidation into your neighbourhood. Cannabis farms are not good for anyone.
“Gangs don’t want to draw attention to the houses or flats they use as farms, they are often quiet and unassuming. They look just like your home at first glance. A big clue that there is a cannabis farm is the sweet, sickly smell the plants give off. It’s not harmful but it is a good sign there is a cannabis farm on your street. The scratch and sniff cards will assist members of the public to recognise that distinct smell.
“We will take robust action against anyone involved in drug-related criminality.”
Dave Tilleray, Community Safety Partnership chairman, said: “Cannabis production increases the amount of drugs on our streets. The police often find culprits bypass electricity meters, which places their lives and the lives of their neighbours in grave danger. So if you do suspect anyone is involved in this activity, please call the police.
“West Lancashire Borough Council, Lancashire Police, and other community safety partners take this crime very seriously and are always looking at new ways of tackling the problem.”