Mapping And Analytics Software Helps Police Weed Out Cannabis Farms

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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Crimestoppers announces 20 percent increase in information on cannabis cultivation following summer Scratch and Sniff campaign

Independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers saw an increase in information received from the public of around 20 percent on commercial cannabis cultivation following its Scratch and Sniff campaign, in conjunction with big data analysis, launched in June this year.

In support of the Association of Chief Police Officer’s (ACPO) Cannabis Cultivation Awareness week, running from September 1 to 5, 2014, Crimestoppers has shared this result following what is describes as positive outcomes of the campaign, which saw a number of high value cannabis farms shut down.

Hot spot areas

cannabis farmThe discovery of some of these farms was due to information received by the charity, or as a result of people contacting police due to the awareness raised through the Scratch and Sniff cards distributed to hot spot areas in the UK.

Utilising its partnership with B2B mapping and analytics company, Esri UK, heat maps highlighted the increase in information in the hot spot areas identified as part of the campaign. The maps compare the four weeks before and after the launch.

A total of 17 police forces supported the Crimestoppers campaign, with those using the cards seeing an increase of 33 percent in information reports. A successful seizure as a direct result of the awareness raised from the campaign saw a large cannabis farm uncovered in Hampshire, where more than 500 plants were seized in one residential property, with an estimated street value of over £700,000.

The results the Esri heat maps showed were the impact of the campaign in the 17 police force areas that handed out scratch and sniff cards. However, a further 650 reports were taken by Crimestoppers in the month following the campaign relating to cannabis cultivation in the remaining 28 police force areas around the UK.

Scratch and sniff

Due to the anonymous nature of the information the Charity receives, it is not possible for it to reveal further details on the information gathered, but the heat maps give insight into how it could use the data received, according to Roger Critchell, director of operations for Crimestoppers.

He added: “We are obviously delighted with the increase in information received from the public and I have to thank them for trusting us with their information.

“The fact we have seen a number of cannabis farms closed down in the weeks after the campaign once again shows that when Crimestoppers, the media, and the UK public join forces, we really can make a difference and aid law enforcement in the fight against serious organised crime.”

If you have any information on cannabis cultivation or any other crime, Crimestoppers asks that you anonymously contact them on 0800 555 111 or through its anonymous online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

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