CANNABIS farmers steal around £200 million of electricity every year to grow their illegal crops, according to figures out today.
Crime expert Phil Butler, an academic and former detective inspector, said that was enough to power every home in a city the size of Newcastle for a year.
The news comes hours after another report which revealed that West Yorkshire is a hotspot for cannabis farms.
And the problems with electricity were highlighted last week in Huddersfield, when details of a farm in a family home in Crosland Moor were revealed.
Every room in the Rudding Street house had been converted to grow the drug and a sophisticated wiring system was drawing power from the mains to feed powerful lights.
Mr Butler, co-director of Newcastle University’s Centre for Cybercrime and Computer Security (CCCS), will join forces with other organisations to investigate how new technology can be used to crack down on the criminals.
He said: “The cultivation of cannabis is happening on an industrial scale but at the moment the police are still very much reliant on intelligence and tip-offs.
“What we are trying to do is develop technologies that will enable us to take a more proactive approach in the fight against cannabis cultivation.”