From Birmingham City Council newsroom:
In a new bid to tackle council tenants who grow cannabis in their homes, Birmingham City Council has issued local residents with scratch and sniff cards to identify the smell of cannabis so it can be reported and stopped.
Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police are seeking the assistance of Druids Heath residents in Brandwood to sniff out unscrupulous tenants who use their properties to cultivate cannabis.
When scratching the designated area of the card the smell is revealed. There is no cannabis in the card only the smell of the plant.
The card includes the following signs to look for:
• Strong and sickly sweet smell
• Constantly covered or blocked off windows
• High and constant lighting day and night
• Constant buzz of ventilation
• High levels of heat and condensation
The cards are a joint partnership between Brandwood Housing Team and West Midlands Police. Since October 2012 over 21 council properties have been identified as cannabis farms and almost 20 residents evicted for this. Scratch and sniff cards have also been delivered in other parts of the city as part of a crackdown on the cultivation of cannabis in social housing.
Selly Oak District Chair, Cllr Karen McCarthy, said: “Cannabis is an illegal substance and we take a zero tolerance approach to those residents who cultivate it. As well as breaking the law, and leaving neighbours to endure its potent stench, this activity also causes other residents to lose out due to the cost of removing it.
“Extensive repairs have to be made to neighbouring homes that have been flooded by watering systems used for home-grown cannabis farms, which often include major electricity work to the dwelling. This money could be put towards other resources that benefit people in the local community.”
Karen Hunn, Sgt for the Brandwood neighbourhood team said: These farms are often run by organised criminals who bring crime and anti-social behaviour into local communities causing real harm and leaving people feeling unsafe.
“We will act on any genuine information that we receive from the community to stamp out drugs. We regularly raid cannabis farms, confiscate equipment and destroy the plants. Recently, the Brandwood Police Team has raided cannabis farms within private dwellings with an estimated street value of £232,200. This takes the grand total of cannabis taken out of circulation during the past twelve months to £431,100.”
Along with the cards a newsletter has been issued to residents to help raise awareness of the issue and how they can help.
To report a property crime stoppers on 0800 555 111, or your local housing team on 0121 464 4700. All calls received are confidential.