The problem profile, which is the third to be published since 2008, shows an increasing number of farms being detected; 7,865 projected for 2011/12 compared with 6,866 in 2009/10 when the last problem profile was published.
Key findings from the report include:
- Over 1.1 million plants with an estimated street value of £207 million were recovered during the two-year survey period
- The number of cannabis production offences continues to rise with 16,464 offences projected for 2011/12 up from 14,982 offences recorded in 2010/11
- There is a shift back to smaller residential or domestic premises as opposed to large-scale commercial and industrial property
- There is an emergence of the "multiple site" model whereby a large number of people are employed to manage small scale factories across multiple residential areas
- Cannabis remains the most commonly used illegal drug in the UK and is the most prevalent drug seized by law enforcement agencies
- Intelligence suggests the purchase of seeds and equipment from local hydroponics and head shops is on the increase. This may result in an increase in small-scale cultivations feeding social supply
- The top five forces which recorded the highest number of commercial factories were West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Midlands, the Metropolitan Police and Avon and Somerset.
ACPO lead on cannabis cultivation Allan Gibson said:
"Commercial cannabis cultivation continues to pose a significant risk to the UK. Increasing numbers of organised crime groups are diverting into this area of criminality but we are determined to continue to disrupt such networks and reduce the harm caused by drugs.
"This profile provides a detailed analysis of the current threat from commercial cultivation of cannabis and the work undertaken by law enforcement agencies to combat the threat. It provides a framework to facilitate future planning and decision-making for preventative, legislative and enforcement activity to make the UK a hostile environment for cannabis cultivators."