THE number of cannabis farms and factories uncovered in Dorset has risen by a shocking 550 per cent in just two years.

Police uncovered 93 farms – equivalent to 13 per 100,000 population – in the last 12 months compared to 15 in 2009/10.

The increase is the third highest in England and Wales with the biggest rise of 989 per cent in the Devon and Cornwall police area.

The figures were released by the Association of Chief Police officers who revealed that more than 20 farms and factories are uncovered every day in England and Wales.

Commenting on the latest figures, Scotland Yard Commander Allan Gibson said: “Commercial cannabis cultivation continues to pose a significant risk to the UK.”

A Dorset Police spokesman said: “The increase in the number of cannabis factories discovered in Dorset is due to organised crime gangs moving into this area of criminality.

“Not only is it a lucrative source of income for them, they are also able to utilise individuals unknown to the police to act as gardeners, thereby reducing the risk of arrest and conviction of the main group members.

“In response, Dorset police has adopted a more focused intelligence-led approach to dealing with these crimes.

“This has resulted in a larger number of factories being discovered and dismantled with offenders being brought to justice.

“Dorset Police is committed to tackling all drug-related crime and anyone with any information about those involved in such criminal activity should contact police in confidence on 101.”

Drug farms uncovered

LAST week the Daily Echo reported on Brendan Kavanagh who was jailed after a cannabis factory was uncovered in an East Dorset industrial unit.

Kavanagh, 45, of Hesketh Close, St Ives, Ringwood, was jailed for three years.

Bournemouth Crown Court heard how the father of one had been involved in a commercial operation at Ferndown from which 135 plants, with a street value of £37,000, were seized.

In February this year brothers Jake, Joe and Jack Bastable were sentenced after admitting running a cannabis factory in Wareham.

Bournemouth Crown Court heard how the brothers were ‘gardeners’ to a crop of 162 cannabis plants spread through three rooms.

The ‘den’ at Bovington Lane would have yielded more than 8kg of the drug.

Joe and Jake were both jailed for six months while Jack received a 12-month community order, 250 hours unpaid work and a four-month curfew.