Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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ECFRS Support Crimestoppers Campaign to Weed Out

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service are supporting Crimestoppers’ campaign to weed out the growing menace of cannabis cultivation.

In 2011/12 there has been a 15% increase in cannabis factories throughout the UK.

These cannabis factories not only bring an increase of crime and violence to the streets where they are based, they also create potential death traps for firefighters.

Cannabis factories are often littered with deadly booby traps, designed to stop invasions by rival drug gangs, which pose a huge risk to firefighters as they enter the building.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service wants to alert people to the dangers and urges them to report to the Police any suspicious comings and goings in their neighbourhood. Cannabis factories are often uninhabited most of the time and there may be strange comings and goings at odd hours. Another give away sign is properties that shed lots of bright light.

People using their homes to grow drugs often bypass electricity meters and fill the homes with dangerous wiring to enable them to run the high powered lights used to grow the plants.

The dangerously adapted wiring makes cannabis factories prone to fire, but the real threat to firefighters come from the deadly traps left littered around these converted homes.

Booby traps found in cannabis factories include door and window handles wired into the mains and 10 inch skewers concreted into window sills and obscured from views.

Some factories even use open barrels of petrol to disguise the pungent smell of the cannabis plants, this creates a huge fire risk and means that even a small fire could become a huge explosion. The problem in dealing with these type of incidents has resulted in Service-wide guidance being distributed to all fire stations giving firefighters information on what to look for to keep them safe.

Crimestoppers will be distributing “scratch and sniff” cards to the public to educate and inform them about the signs to spot and detect cannabis farms by recognising the specific smell of growing cannabis. The cards contain an element that replicates the smell of cannabis in its growing state.

Members of the public with any information about cannabis farms can report it anonymously by telephoning 0800 555 111 or via an anonymous online form found at www.crimestoppers-uk.org . Both routes are 100% anonymous – names are not taken, calls and IP addresses are not traced or recorded and people do not have to go to court.

Learn more about Crimestoppers campaign here

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