Scratch and sniff cards are being posted to people in Hemel Hempstead to let them know what cannabis smells like.
National crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers says Hertfordshire is a hotspot for cannabis factories and they’ve launched a new campaign against illegal cultivation of the drug.
Across Hertfordshire and Suffolk 150 cannabis farms were identified by police across 2010/2012 and the problem grew by 15 per cent in 2011/12.
Now crime-fighters have enlsited the noses of neighbours in the HP1 postcode district in a bid to sniff out perpetrators. The cards don’t actually contain any cannabis, say the organisers.
Crimestoppers director of operations, Roger Critchell said: “We are distributing ‘scratch and sniff‘ cards because not many people know how to recognise the signs of cannabis cultivation happening in their neighbourhood, many are also not familiar with the established links between this crime and serious organised crime.”
Crimestoppers says there has been a ‘significant move’ by criminals towards using residential homes to grow cannabis plants. The authorities are worried about organised crime getting a foothold in communities and using money from selling the drug to fund other criminal activities.
Association of Chief Police Officers lead for drugs, Andy Bliss, said closing down cannabis farms and arresting the criminals is a key focus in drugs policing.
He added many people don’t realise the empty, run down house or flat on their street with people coming and going late at night may actually be a commercial cannabis farm.
Mr Bliss said: “The police will use the intelligence generated by the campaign to help build on recent successes in tackling this issue.”
Crimestoppers asks members of the public to pass on information anonymously by phoning 0800 555111 or via the anonymous online form via www.crimestoppers-uk.org
Crimestoppers say there are a number of signs of cannabis farming, as well as the strong and sickly sweet smell of the drug. They could include blocked off windows and strong and constant lighting day and night.