West Yorkshire Police is set to bring in a private firm to help its officers dismantle the near 1,000 cannabis farms found in the county each year.
The force said 922 cannabis farms were discovered last year, with more than half having 25 or more plants, meaning they took “significant time to examine and dismantle”.
An internal report shows that it has now decided to find “an innovative provider who will attend cannabis farms as requested by the police, dismantle and remove all equipment and dispose of the actual cannabis plants”.
They have been in talks with a firm who provides similar services to South Yorkshire Police in a bid to find a solution that does not create any extra cost to the tax-payer.
But the force yesterday refused to provide any information about the value of contract or who it had been offered to, claiming the information was commercially sensitive.
Assistant Chief Constable Geoff Dodd said: “We will be offering no further information at this time as this process is still ongoing. Once it is complete we will look to review this decision.”
The version of the report released under the Freedom of Information Act has all estimates of financial cost blacked out but went before West Yorkshire Police’s command officer team on June 30.
Among the options discussed was the creation of an “dedicated internal dismantling team” which would be a “growth area of police staff, supported potentially by volunteers”.
The report said: “This has significant start-up costs [and] would require suitable premises, vehicles and equipment.”
In relation to outsourcing to an external firm, the report said the company would “attend the cannabis farms where required after the police had discovered the scene, forensically examined and taken evidential cannabis exhibits”.
It said: “The company would then dismantle and remove all growing equipment and dispose of it ethically along with the remaining cannabis plants.”
The report, seen by the Yorkshire Evening Post, added: “Having analysed data and costs – we believe that a ‘cost neutral‘ situation for the force can be achieved.”
In 2011/12, 936 cannabis farms were found in West Yorkshire, a rate of 42 per 100,000 population and an increase from 809 the previous year. There were 896 found in 2009/10 and 619 in 2008/9.