Scratch and sniff cannabis cards posted to St Albans residents

Crimestoppers have sent scratch and sniff cards as part of its cannabis cultivation campaign

Crimestoppers have sent scratch and sniff cards as part of its cannabis cultivation campaign - Credit: Picture supplied

RESIDENTS in St Albans have been sent scratch and sniff cards replicating the smell of cannabis as part of a campaign to tackle an increase in cannabis-growing factories in people’s homes.

Independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers and police forces across the country, including in Herts, are distributing the cards to help educate residents about the signs to spot and detect cannabis farms.

Although there is no trace of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive element of the cannabis plant, on the scratch and sniff cards it is hoped the replicated scent will help residents recognise the specific smell of growing cannabis.

There was a 15 per cent increase in cannabis factories in 2011/12 throughout the UK.

While hotspot areas targeted in the campaign include Greater Manchester and London, across Herts and Suffolk 150 cannabis farms were identified by the Association of Chief Police Officers from 2010-2012.

A spokesman for Crimestoppers said that drugs crimes affected the safety of communities with around half of criminal groups in the UK being involved in drug trafficking and distribution.

A recent report shows that there has been a significant move towards growing cannabis plants in people’s homes, bringing the issue of organised crime into the heart of local communities.

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As a class B drug, supplying cannabis in the UK can lead to a 14-year prison sentence.

Over the last two years police forces have seized over one million cannabis plants, with an estimated value of over £200 million.

Founder and chairman of Crimestoppers Lord Ashcroft said: “Cannabis farms grow more than just drugs. Those who are cultivating cannabis tend to be involved in other areas of crime and are often involved in related gang crime and other violent crimes involving firearms.”

Crimestoppers director of operations Roger Critchell said: “We are distributing scratch and sniff cards because not many people know how to recognise the signs of cannabis cultivation happening in their neighbourhood.”

He added that many were not familiar with the established links between this crime and serious organised crime.

The Association of Chief Police Officers lead for drugs Andy Bliss explained: “We also know that many people don’t realise that the empty, run-down house or flat on their street with people coming and going late at night may actually be a commercial cannabis farm.”

Members of the public can pass on information about cannabis farms anonymously by telephoning Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via anonymous online form at

• Signs to spot cannabis farming in someone’s home include a strong and sickly sweet smell, constantly covered or blocked off windows, strong and constant lighting day and night and high levels of heat and condensation.