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Newport Council targeting empty buildings to prevent more cannabis factories

A suspected cannabis growing operation in Commercial Street, Newport in November 2023 (Pic: Gwent Police via Twitter)

THE TEAM behind a crackdown on illegal cannabis growing operations in Newport city centre has developed a new database to track the properties most at risk.

Criminals have set up drug factories in a “significant” number of empty properties in recent months, leading to police raids and “many arrests”.

A senior police officer has also revealed the culprits are illegally breaking into the power grid to steal electricity for their growing rooms.

A new council report noted “how vulnerable some business premises and unused flats above the ground floor are to criminality” in central Newport.

Gwent Police is working alongside Newport Council environment and public protection officers, and the council’s city centre manager, to tackle the “threats” of cannabis factories.

Together they have compiled a new database “containing all the premises in the city centre” and rating each one on how likely it is to be targeted by drugs gangs.

The council said a “key element” of its work is “to understand who owns the respective properties and protect them from further illegal use”.

Business owners are being encouraged to report any concerns to the police or council “to ensure early identification and action”.

The new city centre database means the council’s CCTV team can keep a close eye on any high-risk properties, the report adds.

Meanwhile, two men who pleaded guilty to producing cannabis at The Neon, on Clarence Place, in December 2023 are awaiting sentence.

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