Officers from our Cannabis Dismantling Team (CDT) have seized a substantial cannabis farm worth nearly three quarters of a million pounds in St Helens following reports of a fire received yesterday, 20 August.
We assisted MFRS just after 5pm as they dealt with the fire on Riding Close.
The fire caused extensive and substantial damage to the property in question but also affected a number of adjoining houses due to the spread of smoke. The fire was eventually extinguished by MFRS. An 18-month-old baby and a 19-year-old woman, not linked to the property in question, were treated for smoke inhalation.
Officers are working with MFRS to establish the full circumstances but early indications are that the fire was caused by an electricity meter being bridged as a cannabis farm was discovered at the residential property, enquiries continue to locate the occupants and those responsible for the cannabis farm.
At the property, 187 cannabis plants were discovered, with 19 damaged by the fire, along with equipment. The farm had a potential yearly yield of approximately just under £750,000.
DI Jackie Guinness said: “It is totally unacceptable that the actions of these criminals have caused a toddler and a young woman to suffer such effects as a result of their neighbours setting up a cannabis farm in a residential area. The risks of living close to this location are plain to see, with flood and fire risk inevitable, plus the serious and violent crime that cannabis supply attracts.
“It is believed that the occupants of the property are not the owners as the house is a private rental property. I would like to appeal to all landlords and property owners renting out a house to ensure the references you obtain from potential tenants are relevant and satisfactory and that you know who your tenants are.
“If you suspect that cannabis is being grown near you, get in touch and we will investigate further and remove the risk. It is vital that we keep dismantling cannabis farms and rid our communities of those criminals that endanger the lives of others."
Some of the signs and indicators of a potential cannabis grow are:
• Strange smells and sounds
• Frequent and varied visitors to a property, often at unusual times
• Gardening equipment being taken into a property, such as plant pots, fertiliser, fans and industrial lighting
• Windows are sealed and covered or the curtains are permanently closed
• Heat from an adjoining property
• Birds gathering on a roof in cold weather
• Individually these activities may seem commonplace, however, together may indicate something more sinister
Anyone with information on suspected cannabis growing in their community can contact @MerPolCC, call 101 or come forward anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 and we will do the rest.