Cannabis farms more than double in Gloucestershire
THE number of cannabis farms unearthed by police officers in Gloucestershire has rocketed.
The figure has more than doubled in the last three years.
New figures have revealed officers found 60 farms in 2011, compared to 38 in 2009 – a rise of 58 per cent.
Anywhere growing 10 or more plants is deemed a cannabis farm or factory by police.
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Officers acknowledged there has been an increase in the production of the Class B drug, but stressed not all cannabis farms are for commercial use.
Detective Superintendent Alex Drummond, who oversees intelligence for Gloucestershire Constabulary, said: "There has undoubtedly been an increase in cannabis growing, but it is important to put it into perspective.
"More than 10 plants is the definition of a farm, but 10 plants is not a huge amount and could still be for personal use.
"Domestic set-ups are more popular now because we have seen an increase in the quality of cannabis that can be produced at home and the fact the cost of hydroponics equipment has reduced significantly and is more readily available.
"We focus our efforts on targeting the big commercial enterprises though, those often involving large warehouses where hundreds of plants are being grown and where huge profits are being made.
"We have had a number of notable successes in these areas and will continue to take action to close down such operations and put people before the courts."
The statistics show the highest number of plants seized by officers from one premises in 2011 was 371, compared to 402 in 2009 and 345 in 2010.
The number of people facing prosecution in 2011 also went up with 37 people charged and 23 cautioned, compared to 29 and 16 respectively during 2009.
A national report by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), which came out earlier this year, showed increasing numbers of farms were being found by police.
Over the last two years, forces across the country seized a total of 1,096,797 plants.