Anti-cannabis campaign launched in Merseyside

12.07.2017

A hard-hitting campaign to weed out cannabis use in rented accommodation was launched in Merseyside last week.

Liverpool City Council, Merseyside Police and Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service have teamed up with local registered housing providers to develop the ‘Use it? Lose it!’ campaign, which aims to crackdown on the use and cultivation of cannabis in rented residential properties.

The campaign will see posters and leaflets distributed to tenants across Merseyside to raise awareness of the fact that they risk being evicted from their home if they are found to be using or possessing illegal drugs.

Donna Kelly, Regional Director at Liverpool Housing Trust (LHT), who is leading the campaign, said: “Cannabis use in rented properties, particularly those with communal areas, can be a real nuisance to residents. Not only is it illegal, it is also often linked to other anti-social behaviour.

“While we are always here to offer support to residents with drug problems, we are also concerned about the impact of cannabis use on the wider community.

“This campaign sends out a clear message to those using illegal drugs: we take this matter very seriously and will take the appropriate action to protect other residents – including eviction.”

The initiative comes following a series of house fires in the region caused by cannabis farms, including one recent high profile case in Wallasey which saw one cannabis grower charged with manslaughter after the cannabis farm he set up in the family home caught fire, killing a 63-year-old man.

Ben Ryder, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service Group Manager, said: “We have seen numerous fires caused by cannabis cultivation, with heat lamps, poor extraction systems and tampered electricity supplies putting the occupiers’ and neighbours’ lives at risk.”

Mark Wiggins, Liverpool Local Policing Superintendent, said: “Growing cannabis is not a victimless or low level crime and Merseyside Police is committed to bringing the people responsible to justice.

“Cannabis cultivation by criminal gangs can cause serious harm in our communities and we know criminal groups involved in the cultivation of cannabis are usually involved in other serious organised crime.

“Our communities can help us stop these groups, who are only interested in making money, from turning houses and flats into potential death traps. Nobody wants to live next door to these houses and we would ask that if you believe someone is using a property for this purpose, please tell us so we can take positive action and find those responsible for setting them up.”

Cllr Emily Spurrell, Cabinet member for Community and Safer Neighbourhoods, added: “We have a real issue in Liverpool with cannabis being cultivated in houses across the city, putting themselves and neighbouring properties at risk of fire and loss of life. Usually it is linked to organised crime and anti-social behaviour which causes misery in communities.

“This new initiative complements and supports the work already being done by Merseyside Police in identifying those properties and individuals involved, and sends out a strong message that the growing and taking of cannabis is harmful to our society.”

The registered housing providers taking part in the campaign include Adactus, Cobalt, Contour, LMH, One Vision, Pier Head, Plus Dane, Riverside, SLH and Your Housing.