In the war on drugs you might expect your money to be spent on undercover agents, dog handlers and border guards.
But police have come up with a more surprising solution – and will be pushing scratch and sniff cards through hundreds of thousands of doors.
They believe the cards will help householders identify the potent whiff of a cannabis farm. But the campaign was criticised as a ‘costly stunt’ yesterday.
Household help: Homes in the UK will receive this card in the post which produces the smell of growing cannabis when scraped
It was dreamed up by national crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers and paid for by donations from local forces.
Crimestoppers said cannabis farms are a growing problem linked to violence, people trafficking and organised crime.
But critics branded it a waste of money and claimed a similar ruse in Holland had little impact.
One Twitter user said: ‘Funny how it is the end of the tax year and they pull out a costly stunt like this.’
Crimestoppers said the unusual campaign will help people recognise the smell of the drug and report suspects to police.
Science: Experts believe the pilot, which was first tested on 30,000 homes in Holland, will help police track down the illegal plantations, which are up 15 per cent in a year
Smelly: A member of the public scratches the part of the card that releases the scent of cannabis plants
The distinctive green and black cards are being distributed to 210,000 households across 13 police force areas where cannabis farms are a problem.
HOUSEHOLDS WHERE THE ‘SCRATCH ‘N SNIFF’ CARDS WILL GO
Avon & Somerset, Greater Manchester, Hertfordshire, Humberside, Kent, London, Merseyside, Northamptonshire
Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire, Suffolk, West Midlands, West Yorkshire
They are laced with a scent that when scratched replicates the odour of a skunk cannabis plant during its growing state.
The cards also warn of the tell-tale signs of a cannabis farm, including covered windows, visitors at all hours and high levels of heat and condensation.
Officials insisted there is no chance of getting high by smoking the cards as they do not contain the psychoactive element in cannabis. But some critics fear the smell may tempt youngsters to try the drug for the first time.
A Crimestoppers spokesman declined to reveal how much public money was being spent on the project, which she said was funded by police forces involved.
But if the cost of creating and posting every card and envelope was 25p the total bill would be £52,500.
Big business: The news scratch and sniff cards will help police find more cannabis farms, like this one hidden in Croydon, south London
The campaign triggered a furious online backlash. One pro-cannabis campaigner dismissed the move as a ‘joke’ while others accused the charity of ‘wasting what resources they have.’
Some joked about using the cards as ‘air fresheners’ while one critic questioned whether April fools’ day had come early.
The postcards will be distributed in Avon and Somerset, Greater Manchester, Hertfordshire, Humberside, Kent, London, Merseyside, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire, Suffolk, West Midlands and West Yorkshire.
dailyalternative | alternative news – Police issue scratch and sniff CANNABIS cards to help the public spot drugs farms