POLICE tasked with clamping down on drug-dealing in Barnsley have dismantled more than 30 large-scale cannabis farms in the last 12 months, the Chronicle can reveal.
According to a progress report released this week, drugs with a street value of £1m was seized and about £500,000 in cash recovered.
Police say a so-called Cannabis Grow Aware scheme - which sees landlords and letting agents sign up to support police in the fight to tackle drug-related crime - has proven to be a help.
It sees landlords commit to regular checks, and place posters and stickers in their properties, with a two-fold aim to deter tenants from growing cannabis while keeping an eye out for telltale signs, and highlight landlords who may be turning a blind eye.
Cannabis growers can often make dangerous and costly changes to properties if they’re left undisturbed, such as diverting electricity supplies which increases fire risk.
The report said: “Drug production and increased drug use, particularly among young people, has been linked to organised crime locally, regionally, nationally and globally and poses a significant threat to communities.
“Significant work is taking place across the borough to target organised criminals, along with a national process for understanding and mapping organised crime.
“It is known that organised crime groups come into the UK from different global communities, but the problem is no worse in Barnsley than elsewhere.
“Barnsley has recently seen 42 positive disruptions of organised crime groups - some at a relatively low level and some of a more serious nature.
“South Yorkshire Police have been working very closely with the Home Office around serious organised crime tactics, which is given priority as it is seen as presenting a risk of significant harm to society.”
A further update on what is being done locally to combat organised crime in Barnsley will be given by police at South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings’ monthly accountability meeting on April 11.
Police also confirmed they are working alongside social housing provider Berneslai Homes and vowed to take action on council tenants if they are found to be using properties to cultivate crops.
“This course of action removes the risk of harm from that area and broadcasts the wider message that crime doesn’t work,” the report added.
“This is a continuous war and is intelligence-led, with responsibility placed on everyone within the community, from members of the public, staff, reporting through Crimestoppers and local councillors.”
* If you have any information about suspected drug crime in your community, you can report it to police on 101. You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, via their website crimestoppers-uk.org or by calling 0800 555 111.