String of Northamptonshire cannabis farm busts are thanks to tip-offs from communities, says police chief

"We are really keen that we don't allow drug-dealing to get a foothold in the county."

By Alastair Ulke
Wednesday, 15th July 2020, 12:54 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th July 2020, 12:58 pm
Northamptonshire Police have carried out dozens of busts on cannabis farms across the county in the past two months.
Northamptonshire Police have carried out dozens of busts on cannabis farms across the county in the past two months.

In the last six weeks, drug squads have carried out bust after bust on cannabis farms in houses and empty buildings across Northamptonshire.

It included a two week period in June where £750,000 worth of crops were seized across 10 different properties.

Another swoop on a commercial property in Upper Thrift Street led to the seizure of around 600 plants worth around £500,000.

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And last week, police raided five Northampton addresses simultaneously in Ecton Brook, following on from two major finds in Semilong and Cliftonville earlier in July - all following local tip-offs.

All told, the value of plants and product seized by officers in the last two months has topped over £1m and resulted in multiple arrests.

Now, Northamptonshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Simon Blatchly says the surge in raids over summer is thanks to a rise in tip-offs and reports from residents and communities.

ACC Blatchly said: "One positive we've had in the lockdown is we're getting more reports from residents about all sorts of criminality.

"The actual farms have been a combination of criminals growing their own at houses to sell but we've also had these very large and industrial-scale growths.

"Sadly, some are also because of crimes like cuckooing and taking advantage of vulnerable people.

"Some criminals will have exploited the lockdown to begin these farms but some have been in place from well-before March."

It comes after this week Northamptonshire Police announced a "100-day crackdown" on 'hidden crime' across the county, with a focus on cuckooing, sexual exploitation, child exploitation, drug-dealing and domestic violence.

ACC Blatchly said: "We're aiming to carry out some high-profile policing activity to support the most vulnerable in society and crackdown on criminality.

"It's about not letting people move into this area. We are really keen that we don't allow drug-dealing to get a foothold in the county."

Anybody wishing to report information anonymously can do so by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Cuckooing is a crime where criminals move into the home of a vulnerable person and exploit them. This can include using their home to set up a drug-dealing base.

As part of the crackdown, the police say they will be running a "see the signs" campaign to help neighbourhoods spot suspicious behaviour and criminality moving into their area.