Police are asking vigilant residents to look out for signs that homes in their areas are operating as illicit drugs factories.

The plea comes from Woodside Safer Neighbourhoods Team (SNT) which has raided five cannabis dens in just seven months.

Neighbours are being asked to report any suspicious behaviour to their local SNT. They are being urged to look out for curtains that are always drawn, condensation on the inside of windows, unusual amounts of compost or building work being carried out on ducting or lights, early or late activity at the property or strong/strange smells coming from the home.

Sergeant Steve Clancey, from the Woodside SNT, said: “Often if a house is being used as a cannabis factory, we’ll also see a rise in other crime near to it, like theft or robbery or there will be more chance of anti-social behaviour.

“Some people’s view is that there are far worse crimes than smoking cannabis, but cultivating cannabis is a serious crime and it can impact upon the local community in the area in many other ways.

“Our priority is to reduce overall crime in Woodside, and by targeting these properties, we will undoubtedly be preventing other crimes in the ward as well.”

Many cannabis factories contain electrical lamps and heaters and can often pose a serious fire risk to the property and neighbouring properties.

Sergeant Clancey said: “Growing cannabis at a house is also extremely dangerous - often electrics are poorly managed and installed, and this, coupled with high-energy lamps that are used, can mean neighbours are placed at a real danger if a fire breaks out.”

Woodside SNT raided homes and discovered illegal drug cultivation in Denmark Road, Westgate Road, Addison Road and Portland Road.