Weeding out the Criminals: West Midlands is new cannabis capital of England

Weeding out the Criminals: West Midlands is new cannabis capital of England

Direct Line for Business research reveals West Midlands Police seized more than 54,700 plants in 2014/2015.

  • 54,711 cannabis plants seized by West Midlands Police in 2015 – 15 per cent of the UK total
  • More than 1,000 cannabis plants confiscated across England and Wales every day over the course of 2014/15

London, 11 August 2016: New analysis1 by landlord insurer Direct Line for Business has revealed West Midlands Police seized more than 54,700 plants in 2014/2015.

The research, which looked at the number of seizures of cannabis plants by police forces across England and Wales, revealed that there was an average of 150 plants seized every day last year in the county, overtaking London as the nation’s cannabis capital. Indeed, the number of seizures in the West Midlands increased by five per cent year-on-year, up from 52,218 over 2013/2014.

Greater Manchester Police recorded the second highest volume of cannabis plant confiscations, with 41,569 – an increase of 24 per cent on the previous year. The greatest increase in seizures was posted by Suffolk Constabulary, which seized 4,616 cannabis plants over 2014/15 – nearly seven times more than in 2013/14.

However, the figures show that overall seizures of cannabis plants across England and Wales decreased by 20 per cent last year, indicating that local police forces have hit a milestone in winning the battle against cannabis farms.

Nick Breton, Head of Direct Line for Business said: “For landlords, engaging in a tenancy agreement with a tenant always requires a certain amount of trust that they will not cause significant damage to the property. However, as this analysis shows, cannabis farming is still a big problem in England and Wales and can have severe repercussions for landlords.”

On a regional level, the West Midlands saw the highest number of cannabis plant seizures, with nearly 70,000 throughout the course of the 2014/2015 financial year. This works out at around 191 seizures every day, or 5,045 cannabis plants seized for every million households in the region2. Wales recorded the second highest number of cannabis plant seizures per million households, with 3,900, followed by the East Midlands (3,872) and the North East (3,341).

Across the whole of England and Wales there were 366,841 cannabis plants seized over the 12-month period, equal to over 1,000 every day.

Table One: Total number of cannabis plants seized by police in England and Wales

Region

Cannabis plant seizures, 2014/15

Change, 2014 - 2015

Cannabis plant seizures per household, 2014/15

West Midlands

69,803

-4%

5,045

Wales

29,204

-14%

3,900

East Midlands

42,972

4%

3,827

North East

21,183

-12%

3,341

North West

48,503

10%

2,808

Yorkshire and the Humber

32,445

-28%

2,500

East of England

35,565

-15%

2,441

London

38,369

-35%

1,856

South West

19,358

-53%

1,474

South East

26,702

-48%

1,243

Total England and Wales

366,841

-20%

2,508

Source: Direct Line for Business

Direct Line for Business warns that landlords should be wary of who they are renting to as cannabis farms can cause significant damage to properties for which they may not be aware or insured for. The landlord insurer has seen claims for ceilings and walls knocked through, severe water damage and fires due to this criminal activity. In addition to the financial costs, landlords could also face legal action themselves if it is proved that they were aware of criminal activities or have received money or proceeds from illegal drug activity.

Analysis of claims data by Direct Line for Business3 reveals that one in 11 (nine per cent) of claims made for malicious damage on a property with a tenant between 2014 and 2015 were in relation to cannabis cultivation. Furthermore, the average value of a claim where cannabis is a contributing factor is 59 per cent higher than the average claim.

Nick Breton continued: “The cost of cleaning up a cannabis farm can be as big a financial headache as it is a practical one – not to mention the stress of loss of income during periods of repair. It is therefore imperative that landlords do the right background checks and reference their new tenants thoroughly. Don’t be tempted to accept cash offers of rent months in advance either as this may be a sign that the applicant is intending to use the property for criminal activity. Making sure you have the right insurance in place can also offer further peace of mind.”

Signs your rental property may be being used as a cannabis farm:

  • Windows may be blacked out with black plastic or heavy fabric and may be hidden by nets or blinds
  • Silver duct tape may be hanging out of windows and you may hear a constant buzz of ventilation
  • There may be excessive fortification of the property (inside and out)
  • The property may have high levels of heat and condensation which could result in mildew and peeling paint
  • You may see sudden changes to the electricity bill
  • An increase of vegetable material being thrown away
  • Cables or electrical wires being tampered with.

For further details on Direct Line for Business landlord insurance visit https://www.directlineforbusiness.co.uk/landlord-insurance/malicious-damage-by-tenants-cover

Notes to Editors

1 Direct Line for Business analysis of ONS data relating to seizures of drugs in England and Wales for the financial years ending 2014 and 2015, published 5th November 2015.

2 Figure calculated using statistics published in the ONS report into seizures of drugs in England and Wales. The West Midlands has a population of 5,713,993 and an average of 2.42 individuals per household, which equates to 2.36 million households. This works out as 5,045 plant seizures for ever one million households.

3  Analysis conducted into claims made for malicious damage on rental properties during 2014 and 2015 where cannabis was cited in the claim submission.

4 Malicious Damage by Tenants cover can be added to Direct Line’s landlord insurance policy as an optional extra. Qualifying Criteria applies. Claims dealt with on a case by case basis. Underwritten by U K Insurance Limited.

For further information please contact:

Citigate Dewe Rogerson
Amrit Nijjer
Tel: 020 7282 2803
Email: amrit.nijjer@citigatedr.co.uk

Direct Line Group
Jade Trimbee
PR Manager
Tel: 01372 839 452
Mobile: 07825 315 931
Email: jade.trimbee@directlinegroup.co.uk

Direct Line for Business

Launched in 2007 Direct Line for Business provides a range of insurance products for the small business sector direct by phone or online.

Direct Line for Business insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line for Business and U K Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line for Business products or get a quote by calling 0345 301 4827 or visiting www.directlineforbusiness.co.uk

Landlord Insurance Press Release

Added: 11th August 2016