CANNABIS farm finds in Kirklees are set to rise by 50% this year.
Police have uncovered marijuana factories at an average rate of 15 every two months since the start of 2009.
If the trend continues, they will have found 90 by the end of the year – 30 more than were discovered in 2008.
Detective Chief Inspector David Knopwood, who is charge of the police’s drugs strategy in Kirklees, said: “It’s a concern when you see any increase in criminal activity, but equally we are identifying more, getting more information and as a consequence the numbers are going up.”
Cannabis farms are defined as operations using production equipment including a hydroponics system, high intensity lighting, ventilation and extractor fans and a system of bypassing any electricity meter.
The Home Office revealed last month that 368 were discovered in West Yorkshire last year.
The figure was higher than any other region in the country.
Det Chief Insp Knopwood said the rise in figures in Kirklees was probably down to cannabis producers becoming more adept and police becoming better at detecting farms.
He added: “These farms are run by organised criminal groups who have a degree of expertise and knowledge.
“That expertise is becoming more widespread through word of mouth, the internet and the growth of criminal gangs.
“I think we are also becoming better at identifying farms.
“There’s a really big part for the public to play because by far the majority of the intelligence we get comes from them.”
More than three million Britons are believed to use cannabis regularly, a higher proportion than elsewhere in Europe.
And upwards of 60% of the marijuana smoked in Britain is cultivated in this country, compared with just 11% a decade ago.
Det Chief Insp Knopwood said about 30% of the farms found in Kirklees were run by people of southeast Asian origin. And he took a dim view of the spread of farms.
“I treat it extremely seriously,” he added. “Why? Because cannabis farms are organised criminality and there is strong evidence that cannabis is a gateway drug to harder drugs.
“There’s also a public safety aspect because of the way these houses that are being used access the electrical supply and the fact that lights are often on 24/7.
“Plus, it is increasing the availability of cannabis on the streets, some of which is extremely strong.”
RECENT cannabis finds in Kirklees include: August – 300 plants worth £100,000 found at Rock Street, Longwood. June – 60 plants worth £18,000 found at Flash Lane, Mirfield after neighbours noticed a funny smell. May – £12,000 worth of drugs found at Midland Street, Hillhouse, after firefighters were called to reports of smoke coming from the cellar. March – More than 400 cannabis plants were found at a house at West Lodge Crescent, Ainley Top. January – 36 plants, hydroponics equipment and drug paraphernalia found in a loft at West Avenue, Honley.