West Yorkshire Police officers hit out at criticism that cannabis farms are 'not worth' spending time and money on

Officers who shut down a cannabis farm in Wakefield have come out detailing exactly why the drug makes our streets more dangerous.

West Yorkshire Police officers arrested a man following an on-foot chase in the city over the weekend after they were called to a house where cannabis plants were found growing inside.

The house, officers said, posed a huge fire risk and measures were taken to prevent it from going up in flames.

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The force has now taken to Facebook hitting out at criticism that the drug - which is regarded as a Class B drug in the UK - is not "significant" enough for police to spend resources on combating.

Generic image of a large cannabis farm as West Yorkshire Police hit out at criticism saying exactly why they spend time getting rid of them

From the electricity risk posed by setting up indoor cannabis farms, to the child exploitation involved in dealing and transporting the drug, right through to the long-term health impacts of those who regularly smoke it – officers spelled out why they spend resources catching those who grow and supply it.

"Whilst there may be many who may think that cannabis is something small, insignificant and officers should spend more time dealing with other things, what you have to realise is the impact that drugs has on your community," a spokesman for Wakefield Central's neighbourhood policing team said.

The spokesman added: "We have many people who don’t like to go to town centres because of those who take drugs, we want to help you to feel safe walking around the town centre without fear. Less people in the centre has an impact the local businesses in that area who rely on those shopping in the area.

"Often cannabis farms are looked after by people who have been smuggled into the country and forced into labour, and often for little or no money, separated from their loved ones, fearing violence and retribution if they don’t go along with it.

Cannabis production can result in children being exploited by dealers and finding themselves criminalised, police said

"Cannabis farms are unsafe, sockets are overloaded with appliances, much more than the property can cope with, and is a big fire risk, not just to that property but the ones around it.

"Your children are being coerced into selling those drugs on the streets, being gifted items but being threatened that if they tell their family something bad will happen to them. Their grades at school suffer which affects their future career opportunities."

According to Freedom of Information data from the police force, some 4,629 production of cannabis offences were recorded between 2015 and the end of 2020.

Following the incident in Wakefield over the weekend, a man was charged with cannabis production and issued a court summons.

The force added: "Drugs affect your mental health, and can lead to a breakdown of relationships, domestic incidents, loss of livelihoods, loss of friends, hardly being able to afford to eat and reduced to stealing from shops to be able to eat or fund drug habits, therefore increasing crime rates in your area.

"Drugs affect the physical health of those who take it, and can very easily lead to death.

"We have to tell too many families that their loved one has died because of a drug overdose.

"We will continue to fight the fight against drugs, the production, selling and taking of them, and if you or someone you know is affected by drugs there are organisations out there that can help come off them and improve the life of yourself and others around you."