Lancashire Police officer defends Chorley cannabis raids and explains why cultivation is a danger to communities

Police raided a home in Preston Road, Clayton-le-Woods near Chorley on Saturday, February 16 and seized 50,000 in cannabis and equipment.
Police raided a home in Preston Road, Clayton-le-Woods near Chorley on Saturday, February 16 and seized 50,000 in cannabis and equipment.
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Lancashire Police has defended its decision to target cannabis growers after a public backlash over the force's perceived "priorities".

A number of people challenged police after a home was raided in Clayton-le-Woods near Chorley on Saturday, February 16.

Some members of the community had questioned whether the stretched resources of Lancashire Police had been used effectively to target non-violent offences such as cannabis cultivation.

Officers arrested two men and seized cannabis worth an estimated £50,000 in street value from the rented home in Preston Road.

After pictures of the seized cannabis haul emerged online, Lancashire Police was bombarded with comments suggesting that the force should be using its resources to tackle violent crime and burglaries instead.

But Lancashire Police has hit back at the criticism with one of the arresting officers insisting that cannabis cultivation "is not a victimless crime".

In a response to its critics, a member of Chorley's neighbourhood policing team acknowledged that tackling cannabis "always seems to divide opinion" and conceded that "there is a debate to be had" on the issue.

But the officer also revealed why cannabis cultivation remains a legitimate threat to Lancashire's communities.

READ MORE: Lancashire cannabis farm raided with plants worth more than £50,000 seized by police near Chorley

The police officer said: "There is a debate to be had, but that is the job of the politicians, we’re here to enforce the laws, not make them.

"These kind of things always seem to divide opinion but what is clear is that this was a commercial grow and those involved in selling this will take advantage of some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

"People seem to focus on the individual that smokes cannabis recreationally without looking at the bigger picture.

"Let’s start with this house. The electricity supply has been tampered with and the main supply into the house is held together with a small piece of insulation tape.

"The system is then overloaded with the amount of fans and lights that are plugged in.

"This is a huge fire risk endangering the whole row of houses and peoples lives.

"Should this happen, we could have a major incident on our hands that takes much more resources and potentially a loss of innocent lives.

"Thousands of pounds worth of damage has been caused to this house which has left the landlord to foot this bill.

"The people who live in the house are often vulnerable or even trafficked.

"I have seen first hand the effects that this has on people, not necessarily by smoking it, but the exploitation and families torn apart due to “debts”.

"They often have nowhere else to live and are forced to live here or be homeless.

"If they want money then they are forced to sell the drugs."

READ MORE: Here is what you can do if you think your neighbours are smoking weed

The officer continued: "Other vulnerable members of the community, including children, are used to sell the drugs.

"We have children as young as 10 who are selling this stuff in the area.

"These youngsters then end up in debt which is followed by serious threats and quite often come to harm as a result of the threats.

"This violence usually includes the use of weapons including firearms and again uses lots of our resources to investigate.

"From this type of setup, there are usually a number of crimes that take our resources. But if we can stop these at the source, we prevent these crimes happening allowing us to free up resources to deal with everything else."

He added: "So if you ask me, yes, it is a very good use of resources."

Two men have been arrested in connection with the raid on a home in Preston Road in Clayton-le-Woods.

They have been released on bail pending further enquiries.