You'll hear them referred to as 'farms' or 'factories', the reality is they rarely look anything like a farms or factories.

In this job I have seen hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of Cannabis plants. Probably more.

People who go and see their local dealer "Rob" or "Dave" don't realise, or choose to ignore the fact, that it is this demand that creates the need for these factories to be constructed.

Its just a ten bag.

I turned in to work in the middle of a set of shifts. It was a Sunday. I was on an earlies, 0700 start. I often find myself at my desk at about 0630 anyway. It gives me a chance to have a cup of tea and some toast.

Butter or Jam? Its a very difficult decision at this hour. An Inspector once told me that toast tastes better when cut in triangles. I think he's right.

I switch my radio on when I get in. I have a clip on my belt where the radio lives all day. Wherever I go, the radio goes. I've learnt to listen to the radio when performing other tasks. My ears perk up when I hear SOCO or CSI. It's normally an Officer adding a job to our list. Sometimes Officers will ask for advice over the air.

I heard the words 'Cannabis Factory' and 'SOCO'. That job is mine. My favourite jobs are arsons. My second favourite jobs are Cannabis factories.

I answer the call over the radio, having a 'talkthrough' with the Officer. This is a conversation over the air with another person, whilst everyone else can hear. The control room just keep quiet. It's always polite to thank the control room. I mentioned before about keeping the control room happy.

"CSI Guy to Control, thank you, over"

The other CSI I was on with was busying himself with writing a statement for CPS, that was required that morning. He was more than happy to leave me to go to the Cannabis factory.

"Crack on CSI Guy" He said, barely looking up from his keyboard as he used his index fingers alternately, to type.

I finished my cold toast and tea and sent a few replies to emails.

I got my cases and put them in the van, most things I'll need at a Cannabis factory will be in my case, the rest will be in the van.

Driving that early on a Sunday is a breeze. Journeys that would normally take half an hour can be done in ten minutes.

I stopped outside the house where the Police car was. It's a giveaway and saves me looking for house numbers.

I stood for a second and looked down the road. It was just a normal street, a row of houses on each side, most had driveways where gardens should have been. Curtains were still pulled. This street was still asleep, like most in the City on a Sunday morning.

I like to have a look at the scene before I take my cases in. I find it helpful to plan the way in which I'll do things.

I spoke to the bobby at the front door. I could smell the cannabis, I find it hard to believe that these places go unnoticed for so long. I gave the bobby my collar number and name. He'd not been there long, he was still in good spirits.

I walked inside. It was a two storey, semi-detached house. It was a nice house, normal.

Many of these factories are often booby trapped. Not always to harm members of my establishment but to keep others out and protect the crop. Before I'm allowed inside, policy says the electricity board needs to attend and confirm it's safe to enter. This often results in the electric supply being terminated. This is a BBC News story relating to a booby trapped house in Bedford.
To avoid detection and large energy bills, the electricity supply is often bypassed. Normally in a very poor way. It may appear a clever idea, but the reality is that it's extremely dangerous.

Inside, this place was wrecked. It was clear that this house had been rented solely for the purpose of cultivation. The landlord has no idea how much the repairs are going to cost, and most insurers will probably wriggle their way out of any claim.

My torch lit up a system of silver ducting through the walls and ceilings. The reflecting light catching the wall and ceiling as it hit the curved section of the ducting. The ducting finished in the loft space. Each and every room had plants at various stages of growth and there was soil everywhere.

The gardener wasn't very neat. I doubt he'll be getting a reference.

I placed a yellow photo number marker in each room, I number the rooms to show where I recover items from. With each room being a mini greenhouse, it's difficult to decide which room is the front room and which is the bedroom.

The kitchen was a state. It was however cleaner than some of the kitchens I've seen in 'normal' houses. There was a plate of cooked fish on the side. It was covered in flies and it stank. I see this a lot at Cannabis factories. I don't know if the people who look after the house really like fish or more likely, it's used to mask the smell.

There was a double mattress on the floor next to the rear door. This was home for some unlucky soul. There were empty Jaffa Cake boxes next to the mattress. Someone loves Jaffa Cakes as much as me.

This factory had been discovered after a break in. A neighbour had seen unfamiliar people going over the back fence with their faces covered. I wouldn't recognise someone with their face covered either.

It's a shame the local nominals found out about this place before the Police. It's just the way it happens now.

They wanted some of the plants; actually, they wanted them all.

They had of course fled before the Police arrived. One was chased and detained by a Policeman with a German Shepherd Dog on the end of his arm. I think he suffered a gentle lick or two. I'm led to believe no pain was involved.

Once the photo markers were down, I took photos from the front garden to the loft. Everything inside the house was captured at least twice on film.

I use my flashgun with a hotshoe cable, this means I can direct the flash where I want it to go. With so many obstructions, shadows can be a problem but I make an effort to eliminate as many as I can.

What was the master bedroom now resembled The Eden Project.

There were lights hanging from the ceiling, eight of them, suspended from the ceiling by thin metal chains. The light bulbs were shaped like large test tubes. Great for fingerprints.

There were probably around 25 plants in black plastic pots. There was no soil in these pots but dirty orange clay pebbles, apparently the balance of nutrients in some soil isn't as good as the pebbles.

The walls in this room were covered with plastic sheeting. The sheeting was black on one side and white on the other, I believe is the idea of this is to avoid heat detection equipment from Police helicopters.

There was a system of black boxes screwed on a piece of chipboard on the wall. These boxes were electric transformers, each slightly smaller than a shoe box. There were enough power extension cables here to light up Disneyland. There were a number of timers set to operate the lights on a cycle.

I like photographing the timers with my macro lens. I fill the frame with the timer, the detail is incredible. The period of light and dark the plants have, can determine what stage of growth it is at.

I like to try and collect a piece of evidence from each room. I don't like giving up on a room until I find something that I'm satisfied with. I wanted a piece of that sheeting, there's had to be prints on there. I knelt down to my case and took out my multi tool from the void carefully crafted into the foam in my case, it lives there.

When it's not being used, that's where it'll be.

I flicked the knife open with one hand, it clicked into place. I started to slice through the sheeting. I feel like Ray Mears. No, I'm Bear Grylls. He's awesome.

I cut out a section of the sheet, I could hear it ripping as I sliced trhough it. I stuck a small white label on the reverse. The label had the exhibit reference on it, my initials, CSI, and a number, 7. I then folded the piece of sheet up and placed it inside a tamper evident bag.

I carry a small plastic container with me into jobs like this. Jobs where I know I'll have many exhibits. This allows me to keep them altogether and clean and tidy.

After a few minutes, you get use to the smell. It's rather pungent. Sweet. The house is full of this smell. I notice it when I go in and out of the house. It stays on my clothes for hours.

Cannabis plants go through a number of 'growth' stages. I've made it my business to understand these stages and how to identify them. I'm surprised that the books I've bought from Amazon haven't triggered a knock at the door! Cannabis run through the cycle of germination, seedling, vegetative growth and flowering.

I don't like dealing with something that I don't understand. If this happens, I'll often research it.

I've got two roles at this scene. I need to collect evidence for the cultivation, but I also need to gather evidence for the burglary offence.

I often feel that I've cleaned the place up a little whilst I've been there. I stack things as I go, then I know I've dealt with them.

I know that Officers have been through this place before I arrived, they needed to make sure there were no offenders lurking anywhere. I'm always weary of noises though. A colleague of mine found the 'gardener' hiding below floor boards at one of these not that long ago.

The plants are seized by the Officers, once I've done. They take two plants at each stage of growth. The best bet is to take two from each room, the 'gardener' will often have each growth stage in a separate room.

The plants are taken out of the soil, the roots are knocked to remove excess soil. They are then placed in brown bags. If the plants are taken in pots with soil, then the Police themselves continue to cultivate the cannabis.

Not something you'd want the Daily Mail to get hold of.

I probably spent about two hours at the scene. The length of time these scenes take often depends on how big they are. A colleague of mine, just the other day, went to a factory with around 3,000 plants. He was there a number of hours.

I needed to head back to the Office to write the job up straight after this job. There was someone in custody, I needed to present my evidence to assist with any interviews or charging decisions.

I stopped at MacDonald's on the way back. I was just hungry, I could see the girl at the window look at me in an odd manner, then I realised, she could smell the Cannabis! I'm glad I'm in an unmarked van.


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