GANG turf wars owing to suspected cannabis cultivation in Barnsley – which has resulted in criminals with weapons attempting to break into properties where plants are growing – have been revealed in a shocking crime report.
Four ‘machete-wielding’ thugs recently targeted a property in Royston – on a street which has not been named due to the scale of the issue – in an attempt to gain entry.
Investigating officers from both the council and police believe the raid – which was unsuccessful – was due to drugs being grown in the rented property.
The report said: “Four people wearing balaclavas and wielding machetes tried to gain entry.
“Barnsley Council’s housing officer carried out a survey on the street and two weeks later, a resident called to say the same thing had happened again.
“The information supported a warrant being executed where the remnants of a recent cannabis grow, dealing bags and weapons were removed.
“The tenant was arrested – the people with the machetes were most likely trying to steal the cannabis.”
Drug issues in Royston have been adopted as a recent priority for officers on the Barnsley North East Neighbourhood Policing Team and an update will be provided on progress at a police meeting at the village’s library on Tuesday.
Superintendent Paul Ferguson said the force continues to work in partnership with the local authority and takes a ‘grassroots view’ to remove residents identified as being involved in drug production or supply alongside Berneslai Homes, the council’s housing management arm.
“If you’ve got a street with someone in the middle causing harm to those residents, you try to take that household out of the equation,” he said.
“When we get an arrest, Berneslai Homes will swoop in with us to remove that ill as well.
“It takes the harm away, but also I hope it sends a wider message out as well that crime doesn’t work.
“Tackling the ongoing issue of illegal drugs, including cannabis cultivation, is a priority at South Yorkshire Police.
“These cultivations are often led by organised criminals.
“We know they have a detrimental impact on our communities, through power outages and the exploitation of vulnerable people, as well as the fear and harm caused by these gangs.
“With enough information we can and do execute warrants to seize the grows and put those responsible before the courts.
“We will continue to work closely with the community and partners to tackle these offences.
“If you are uncomfortable telling us about your suspicions directly, you can contact independent charity Crimestoppers 100 per cent anonymously.”
A scheme – Cannabis Grow Aware – is being backed by the council and encourages landlords to check their properties more frequently.
A council statement said: “Private rented properties are the biggest target for cannabis grows in Barnsley.
“The scheme promotes property checks between eight and ten weeks and this is to deter grows by tenants.
“It’s hoped that the risk of being caught will deter them from using a property to grow cannabis.”