As part of its National Tackling Drugs week, Crimestoppers have been running a campaign which focuses on the issue of large scale cannabis cultivation. The campaign attempts to draw attention to the increasing prevalence of cannabis factories springing up in two and three bedroom houses in residential areas all over the UK. I have just done a quick internet search and it seems this problem doesn’t just affect the UK but is a global problem.
But ‘why is STOP THE TRAFFIK interested in this issue?’ I hear you cry.
Well let me explain.
Many of these cannabis factories are being set up by gangs originating from South East Asia (one of the world’s trafficking hotspots) who use trafficked children as ‘gardeners’ in these factories.
Children from China, Thailand and Vietnam are the most common targets, and boys as young as ten years old have been found working in these factories. What’s worse is that when they do come into contact with the authorities they are often treated as criminals – due to the fact they’re cultivating cannabis – and not as victims of trafficking.
What’s even more worrying is that, according to a recent Home Affairs Committee Report on human trafficking in the UK, this cannabis gardening activity represents part of a wider trend seeing trafficked children from South East Asia being forced into all sorts of criminal activity, from pick pocketing, to begging, to selling fake DVDs. Again, this is not just happening in the UK but all over the world.
So what can you do? Well, on the Crimestoppers website there is some excellent information and guidance on how to spot a potential cannabis factory in your area, including a helpful video, and advice on who to call in case you suspect anything.
Trafficking children for the purpose of criminal exploitation is just one of the wide and varied practices that the international trade in people helps to service and we need all the help we can get to put an end to it. So visit the website and find out what the indicators are that cannabis may be being cultivated in your area……and use your nose to put a stop to trafficking.