Northern Ireland

Two cannabis factories found in Northern Ireland every week

Cannabis factory
Image caption Forty-nine cannabis factories have been found in Northern Ireland since April

More than two cannabis factories are being discovered in Northern Ireland every week, police have said.

One hundred and thirty cannabis factories were uncovered in Northern Ireland between April 2013 and March 2014.

That was a 44% increase on the previous year. Since April of this year 49 factories have been found.

The figures were released as police launched a campaign to help the public spot signs of such drugs factories.

As part of the 'scratch and sniff' initiative officers will hand out cards to the public to educate them about the signs to spot where there may be a cannabis factory and also the specific smell of cannabis being grown.

The cards contain an element that replicates the smell of cannabis in its growing state which is a different smell to when it is being smoked.

Organised crime

Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris said: "More than two cannabis factories are being uncovered every week in Northern Ireland. They are illegal and they are dangerous.

"The money generated by them runs into millions of pounds. That's money going into the pockets of organised criminals - used to fund even more criminal activity.

"From 1 April 2014 until 31 August 2014, police have arrested over 1,110 people for drugs offences and removed an estimated £3.9m of drugs from our streets."

Justice Minister David Ford said: "This initiative is a very innovative example of law enforcement agencies, the voluntary sector and the public coming together to help keep Northern Ireland society safe.

Image caption The cards list tell-tale signs of cannabis production, as well as the smell of the drug growing

"I have been impressed with this project and hope it will prove to be a successful additional tool to the police in their efforts to thwart cannabis growing in Northern Ireland."

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