SOUTH Tynesiders are being urged to help police win the fight against drugs.
New figures show that on average more than 21 cannabis farms were found every day across Britain in 2010-2011, according to a report from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo).
The total number discovered was 7,865 – or £100m of the Class B drug – and 57 of those were in Northumbria Police Force area.
Areas with most cannabis farms per 100,000 people are South Yorkshire (63), Merseyside (38) and West Yorkshire (36) – while Northumbria had four for every 100,000 people, one of the lowest in the country.
Recent finds include 80 plants and lighting equipment in Jacks Terrace, South Shields, in February after a police officer smelled the drug coming from an upstairs flat in the street.
The owner of the rented flat was contacted, and let police in.
And in September last year, police found a farm with a estimated street value of £100,000 in Laygate in South Shields – thought to be one of the biggest finds in the borough.
About 600 cannabis plants were discovered during a search of a property at Laygate, South Shields after officers had been called about a potential burglary.
South Tyneside Chief Inspector Mick Barton said today: “Tackling drugs and drug-related crime remains a priority for officers and we actively target those who are using their homes for growing large quantities of cannabis.
“The large-scale cultivation of cannabis is closely linked to other organised criminal activity and we are targeting the people behind these farms as well as the so-called farmers.
“In addition to tackling and dismantling the cannabis farms themselves, we will continue to do everything in our powers to strip those responsible of their criminal assets using Proceeds of Crime Act – so that they do not benefit financially from their crimes.
“The majority of cannabis farms that we uncover come from information given to us from our communities, and we need this to continue.”
“We are working with landlords and residents to educate them about the signs that properties may be being used for growing cannabis.
“Anyone who sees anything suspicious where they live should to report it to police, especially instances where people might be coming and going from houses that aren’t lived in.
“Crimestoppers is also an excellent way for the public to give information to the police anonymously.”
Acpo’s study also notes there has been a shift away from cannabis farms in commercial and industrial properties to “multiple site” small-scale factories.
It also says that the recession has caused the number of people growing cannabis for their own use is rising as are sales of hydroponic equipment (for growing the plants without soil).
Anyone who believes drug activity is happening in their neighbourhood is asked to call police on 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.