SCRATCH and sniff cards are being sent to homes across Hampshire.
But instead of lemon, strawberry and chocolate flavours, Hampshire Crimestoppers are sending out... the whiff of cannabis.
The unusual move is aimed at trying to get residents unfamiliar with the class C drug to recognise the particular pong, and get them reporting possible breaches of the law.
Thousands of the cards will be sent out to try and get the public scenting out cannabis being grown in the community on an industrial scale.
The campaign is not targeting individual growers but criminal gangs who rent domestic properties and turn them into cannabis factories by hijacking the electrical supply, stripping out all the rooms for plants and often using trafficked people – many of them minors – to undertake their work.
Organised criminals use cannabis growing to fund a range of other criminal activities such as trafficking, gun crime and Class A drugs, say police.
Signs people are being urged to look for include:
- Constantly covered or blocked off windows
- Visitors at unsociable hours
- Strong and constant lighting day and night
- High levels of heat and condensation
- Constant buzz of ventilation
- Lots of cables and hydroponic cultivation equipment
Hampshire Constabulary Detective Superintendent Kath Barnes said: ‘Cannabis is often seen as harmless and somehow acceptable. This is just not the case.
“It’s harmful to use and many people including children, across the world, are exploited in furtherance of the cannabis trade.
“Through Operation Fortress, we will continue to work with our partners across the two counties to reduce supply, restrict demand and rebuild communities. The Crimestoppers Cannabis Cultivation campaign has our full support.’ Crimestoppers director of operations, Roger Critchell said: “We’re not looking to target individual users, we’re looking at something much bigger here, something much more dangerous, and we are targeting serious and organised crime groups who are involved in this illicit trade.”
Crimestoppers is asking members of the public to pass on any information about cannabis farms anonymously on 0800 555 111 or at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
Both routes are 100 per cent anonymous – names are not taken, calls and IP addresses are not traced or recorded and people do not have to go to court.