MP's call for "concerted action" to tackle cannabis farms blight on town
MP Sarah Champion believes the problem of cannabis farms can be confronted despite a surge in drug-growing operations being discovered in recent months.
Speaking ahead of her online public meeting today on the issue, the Rotherham MP said concerted and cooperative action and making it “difficult” for criminals would help get a grip on illegal growing.
The meeting will see Ms Champion joined by representatives of South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Council, who will advise on how the issue of cannabis farming in Rotherham can be dealt with.
Discussing the recent rise in cases, Ms Champion said: “Cannabis farms have gone from something unusual to now standard in briefings I receive from the police.
“It has also seemingly spread geographically throughout the borough.”
She added: “There needs to be concerted and cooperative action between police, the council and Northern Powergrid to identify suspicious properties and shut them down.
“I want more disruption - let’s make it too difficult for them to operate in our town.”
Ms Champion said she also wanted to see the police take action to prosecute the organised criminal gangs behind the farms, along with “robust action against landlords who turn a blind eye to illegal activity in their properties”.
She added: “With collaborative working and fast, effective investigation not just of specific premises but also of the gangs that operate them, I do believe the problem can be confronted.”
The MP said she had been contacted by many constituents about the issue in recent years.
“They have raised in particular the huge problems the farms cause with power supplies,” she said, going on to explain how cannabis growers often illegally access power networks in such a way that damage is caused to infrastructure, leading to frequent losses of power for residents and businesses.
She also cited violence from rival gangs as another associated worry faced by constituents.
Ms Champion said that she hoped as many residents as possible would attend today’s meeting.
“There needs to be much more support available to support people who have these illegal farms on their street” she added, “Why should they be made to suffer for months before concrete action is taken?”
The event will be held next Thursday between 6pm and 7pm.
To attend, email Jacquie Falvey at [email protected] by 5pm on Tuesday, January 25, to register an interest and receive information on how to join.