Crimestoppers raising awareness of residential cannabis cultivation

Crimestoppers raising awareness of residential cannabis cultivation

Independent charity Crimestoppers has launched a campaign this week in seven of the home counties, to raise awareness of residential properties being used by criminals to cultivate cannabis.

Working with police forces of the ERSOU (Eastern Region Special Operations Unit) in this two-week campaign which is mainly online, Crimestoppers aims to identify these properties, which are often secured through letting agents by serious organised crime gangs. We are focusing on the counties of Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent.

The public are encouraged to report any suspicious activity or concerns they have about a property being used to grow drugs to Crimestoppers 100% anonymously, to keep their neighbourhoods safe from crime.

Illegal drug activity not only has a detrimental affect on local communities, but also on vulnerable individuals within society, who may be coerced, forced or exploited into carrying out illegal activities on behalf of organised crime gangs.

Key signs that a property is being used to cultivate drugs:

Physical indications with the property

  • A powerful distinctive sweet, sickly aroma
  • Frequent visitors throughout the day and night
  • Blacked out windows
  • Chinks of bright light throughout the night
  • Birds gathering on the roof, particularly in cold weather
  • In winter, snow melting unusually quickly on the roof
  • High levels of condensation on windows
  • Noise from fans
  • Large amounts of rubbish, including compost bags
  • Electricity meter being tampered with/altered and new cabling, sometimes leading to street lighting.

Signs for letting agents and landlords to look for with a tenant

  • Poor or no references from a previous letting agent
  • Offering to pay several months in advance
  • Preference to pay rent in cash without reasonable cause
  • Wanting to keep the utility bills in a landlord’s name
  • Asking for complete privacy, requesting no periodic inspections or preventing the inspection of the property even when given reasonable notice
  • Changing locks to keep landlords and agents away from a property.

Phil Breckon, Eastern Regional Manager for the charity Crimestoppers, said:

“By running this campaign, we hope to identify premises being used for illegal criminal activity, as part of our commitment to tackling crime and keeping communities safe.

“Residential premises being used to commercially cultivate cannabis carries many risks, such as increased fire hazards, through dangerously wired and diverted electricity supplies, which are often linked to water supplies and quite sophisticated feeding systems.

“Sadly many properties, often unwittingly rented to criminals for drug cultivation, can be left completely destroyed and uninhabitable, with damp and condensation problems, carpets ripped out and walls knocked down. We encourage the public to keep their eyes open and to report any suspicious signs to our charity 100% anonymously.

“We value safe communities and in over 32 years we have always kept our promise of anonymity to everyone who contacts us. Call 0800 555 111 at any time or use our anonymous online form at We cannot trace calls or get IP addresses. Not even we will know your identity when you contact us to pass on vital information.”

For more information please contact the Crimestoppers Press Office by emailing


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