Police are making a record 358 cannabis seizures a day

Police are making a record 358 cannabis seizures a day and finding drugs on the streets every four MINUTES – with £2.4billion worth of the drug consumed in England and Wales a year, new figures show

  • Figures show cannabis was the most commonly found drug in police searches 
  • Officers within Border Force also had a record year smashing drug gangs
  • Birmingham, Solihull and London are hotspots for cultivation in rental properties

Police are making a record 358 cannabis seizures a day, finding drugs on the streets of Britain around every four minutes, shock new figures show.

Drug busts of cannabis are at a six-year high due to a surge in stop and search by officers on the streets, official figures show.

In the year ending March 2020, there were 130,751 seizures, a 21 per cent increase on 2019 when the drug was found on 108,362 occasions and the highest numbers of raids since 2014.

Drug busts of cannabis are at a six-year high due to a surge in stop and search by officers on the streets, official figures show

Home Office figures show that cannabis was the most commonly found drug in police searches, with quantities being found in 71 per cent of all drug seizures in England and Wales in the 12 months to the end of March 2020.

In that period, police busts of herbal cannabis shot up by 22 per cent, cannabis resin raids soared by 20 per cent and there were also 8,984 cannabis farms found, the highest number since 2017, with detectives recovering 490,254 plants, a quarter more than in 2019.

Officers within Border Force also had a record year smashing drug gangs, recovering 5,019 hauls of herbal cannabis, the highest number in 24 years.

Earlier this year, West Midlands Police shut down a £6.5million cannabis farm, described as the biggest the force had ever found, with more than 6,000 plants growing in 40 rooms in a Walsall property.

The force recovered almost £90million of the drug in seizures in the last year as part of a major crackdown on drugs gangs.

Home Office figures show that cannabis was the most commonly found drug in police searches, with quantities being found in 71 per cent of all drug seizures in England and Wales in the 12 months to the end of March 2020

A recent assessment by the National Crime Agency on serious organised crime revealed that cannabis is now Britain’s single biggest drug market, with £2.4billion of the class B drug being consumed annually in England and Wales.

It estimated that 2.6million people in the UK used the drug last year.

Now new figures have emerged showing the extent of electricity being stolen for cannabis farms.

Analysis of official data by Direct Line business insurance reveals nearly half (48 per cent) of police investigations into the theft of electricity, where people have tampered with a gas or electricity meter, are thought to relate to the cultivation of illegal drugs.

Drug cultivation investigations rose by over a third from 2019 to 2020.

Figures released under freedom of information show that the police force carrying out the most investigations into energy abstraction for illegal drug cultivation was West Yorkshire Police, which had 211 cases in 2020.

West Midlands Police came second with 136 investigations last year, followed by Lancashire Constabulary which launched 110 probes.

These three regions account for over half (55 per cent) of all investigations into theft of electricity for the use of drug cultivation.

The insurance industry has also seen a surge in claims from landlords about damage to rented properties caused by cannabis farms.

Analysis of proprietary insurance claims data reveals that Birmingham, Solihull, London and Taunton are hotspots for cannabis cultivation in rented properties.

Figures from Direct Line show one in nine (12 per cent) landlords who submitted an insurance claim for malicious damage to properties last year was due to tenants growing cannabis plants.

The average claim for repairing a landlord’s property damaged by cannabis cultivation was £9,471 last year due to mould and water leakage from the hydroponics and irrigation systems used.

Yesterday the National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Drugs, Deputy Chief Constable Jason Harwin, said: ‘Cannabis production not only feeds a multi-million pound illicit market, but cannabis is also an increasingly potent and harmful drug and a key driver in other serious criminality.

‘Police continue to see a number of significant cannabis cultivation operations, often linked to serious and organised crime networks, and we work closely with other law enforcement agencies to target those responsible.

‘We will continue to focus efforts on the criminals and organised gangs who are destroying lives and fuelling the violence we’re seeing on our streets. Our tactics are already showing some success, with a 21 per cent increase in the overall amount of cannabis seized by police.’

Jamie Chaplin, landlord product manager, Direct Line business insurance, said: ‘The cultivation of illegal drugs by tenants in rented properties is an ongoing and real concern for landlords across the UK.

‘Cannabis cultivation can cause thousands of pounds worth of damage to rented properties.’

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