The illegal trade in cannabis in the UK is estimated to be worth £2.6 billion a year.
And while customs officers regularly seize amounts of the drug as smugglers import it into the UK, a large amount is grown behind closed doors in innocuous looking houses or industrial units.
The lights and equipment used to grow the plant run on large amounts of electricity – and often those cultivating it bypass electricity meters to avoid the cost and suspicion caused by a huge electricity bill – creating a risk of the building going up in flames.
The British Landlords Association has issued advice to landlords on how to avoid the risk of having a cannabis farm set up in their property and how to spot the tell tale signs, which include the sickly sweet smell of the drug, covered up windows, excessive security measures, lots of condensation, bright lights and ventilation sounds – as well as falling snow on a roof melting when it is settling everywhere else.
But extra vigilance often isn’t enough to prevent cannabis farms being set up.
Leicestershire Police have raided a number of cannabis farms in a huge variety of locations across the county so far in 2020. Here is a list of all the discoveries we’re reported on from the beginning of this year:
Lyme Road, Evington: On Monday, September 28, police were tipped off about a farm and raided the property and arrested a man.
Bonchurch Street, Newfoundpool: About 300 cannabis plants were found inside a rented property during a police raid on October, Saturday 5. Those responsible had also caused extensive damage to the inside of the property.
Ashleigh Road, Westcotes: It was the report of people in the street armed with weapons that led police to the cannabis farm at 4.30am on Thursday, October 22. About 200 plants were inside.
Hastings Road, Humberstone: An early morning fire at an outbuilding uncovered a cannabis farm. No one was in the premises and police did not reveal how many plants they found.
Pool Road, Newfoundpool: About 160 plants were found on Wednesday, August 5, following a tip-of to police. The electricity meter had been bypassed to give the cannabis farmers free energy.
Melton Road, Rushey Mead: Unspecific concerns about a building from residents led police to a cannabis farm on Friday, July 24.
Southgates, Leicester: A large amount of cannabis was discovered in the former Shakespeare’s Head pub in Leicester city centre on Friday, June 4. Three men fled and were captured by the officers.
Bath Lane, Leicester city centre: Three roads in the city centre were shut to traffic while police carried out the raid on Friday, May 22. Police said they found a “substantial” cannabis farm in a property.
Marjorie Street, Belgrave: On Wednesday, May 13, police raided a terraced home and found cannabis worth several hundred thousand pounds. A man was arrested at the scene.
Bonney Road, New Parks: A Lithuanian man was arrested and 90 mature plants seized in a police raid on Monday, March 2.
Winchester Avenue, Westcotes: Police were called to a burglary and arrived to discover a cannabis farm on Wednesday, February 19.
Wharf Street South, Leicester city centre: On Friday, February 7, a huge raid involving police dogs and numerous vehicles took place at a cannabis farm in the city centre.
North West Leicestershire
Walker Road, Bardon Hill, Coalville: A business premises was raided in June after the owner reported to police that he was unable to get into the property. More than 900 plants were seized.
Ridgway Road, Ashby: A cannabis factory was discovered after a blaze that damaged two homes in the road. The fire, on Thursday, November 5, was caused by an illegal electrical installation.
Donisthorpe, Ashby: The property was raided in mid-September this year and several cannabis plants were found. One man was arrested.
Oadby and Wigston
Adlington Road, Oadby: A police raid on Friday, April 24, uncovered 168 plants as well as an illegal immigrant who was later convicted.
Knighton Rise, Oadby: Police investigating an insecure property and had a poke inside only to discover a large cannabis factory. The find happened on Tuesday, February 25.
Dunford Road, Wigston: At least 40 plants were found in the house during a raid on Wednesday, June 17. The police were tipped off that the electricity meter at the house had been bypassed.
London Road, Oadby: Police forced there way into a property after tip-off from local residents on Friday, June 19. About 50 cannabis plants were discovered inside.
Regent Street, Oadby: A member of the public tipped off the police and they entered the building to find a number of plants inside. The incident happened on Monday, November 9.
Broadhill Road, Kegworth: A tip-off from neighbours on Moday, August 17, led Leicestershire Police to a cannabis farm in an outhouse containing about 100 plants.
Alan Moss Road, Loughborough: Police entered a house after a bus crashed into it on Saturday, January 25, only to discover cannabis plants growing inside.
Hudson Street, Loughborough: A tip off from local residents led police to a farm of about 200 cannabis plants at the house in the centre of Loughborough at the beginning of October.
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Walton New Road Business Park in Upper Bruntingthorpe: Police raided the building on Monday, November 2, and found more than 100 cannabis plants.
Melton town centre: Police walking past a building smelt a cannabis farm containing hundreds of plants on Monday, May 4. The drug crop was worth an estimated £100,000.
Thistley Close, Thorpe Astley: Fire crews dealing with a bedroom fire on Saturday, February 15, discovered a number of cannabis plants and called the police.