More than 40 landlords were made ‘cannabis aware’ last week when they attended the local launch of a new initiative to tackle drug supply in the private rented sector.
Landlords were given the lowdown on how to spot the signs of cannabis cultivation and made aware of the impact on property when PSNI need to force entry.
The event coincided with the launch of a Crimestoppers’ “Scratch and Sniff” campaign, similarly aimed at raising awareness of the presence of cannabis with a view to detecting and weeding out illegal cannabis factories.
Inspector Alison Ferguson, who attended the Ballymena event, said that PSNI officers across Northern Ireland would be distributing ‘scratch and sniff’ cards to the public to enable them to recognise the signs and smells of cannabis factories in their communities.
She said: “We know that people may not realise that the empty, run down house or flat on their street with people coming and going may actually be a cannabis factory. It’s not just the stereotype of the remote rural dwelling or disused industrial unit.”
Landlords at last Wednesday’s launch were also informed by Ballymena Council’s Environmental Health Team officers of the negative consequences of anti-social behaviour such as litter, dumping, nuisance pets and noise in rented homes and the sort of penalties available for infringement by both tenants and landlords.
Welcoming the two-pronged initiative, Chair of Ballymena Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP), Councillor Roy Gillespie said: “The PCSP is acutely aware of the issues which arise as a result of tenants who are not properly checked.
“A person’s home is their castle. I am sure that is what we would all want at the end of a busy day - to retreat to the safe sanctuary of a home where we can gather ourselves in peace and tranquillity to face the next challenge that awaits us. Ballymena PCSP would wish that this initiative is the first step in a concerted campaign to reduce anti-social behaviour and illegal drugs in the private rented sector and we would wish that all the agencies support local landlords in their task,” Councillor Gillespie said.