West Yorkshire is today revealed as the cannabis manufacturing and supply capital of the UK.
An astonishing 368 cannabis factories were discovered by the region's police in just one year – more than one every day.
This was more than any other constabulary in the country, including the Metropolitan, Greater Manchester and West Midlands forces, according to latest government figures.
West Yorkshire Police today said it was making the region a "hostile environment" for the organised criminals who are often behind cannabis farms.
A Home Office spokesman declined to comment on whether the government believes West Yorkshire has a major problem with cannabis production or whether the high figures are because the region's police are more successful at finding factories than other forces.
Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland vowed to write to chief constable Norman Bettison about the issue.
"I am aware from my regular meetings with police that they have had real success in locating and shutting down cannabis farms and exposing those involved, including a number in my constituency, and they deserve praise for this.
"However, we do need to establish if there is a particular problem and if more needs to be done to address the production and supply of cannabis in the area," he said.
The Home Office figures are the first government statistics which compare the number of cannabis farms found across the UK's 52 police force areas.
Previously, forces use different definitions for what scale of production they consider to be a cannabis "factory".
A total of 3,033 factories were busted across in the country from April 2007 to March 2008. Of these, 368 – or 12 per cent – were in West Yorkshire.
There were 289 cannabis farms discovered in London, 227 in Greater Manchester, 207 in Avon and Somerset, 203 in the West Midlands and 118 in Merseyside.
Officers in West Yorkshire have scored a number of successes during the summer, including busting two factories earlier this month housing almost 1,000 plants in Outwood and Durkar.
Also this month, a call from neighbours who had spotted would-be burglars trying to break into a house in Bayswater Mount in Harehills, Leeds, led police to a large factory containing 500 plants.
West Yorkshire Police's helicopter is kitted out with thermal camera, which allows officers to detect the factories due to heat signals give off.
Officers also rely on tip-offs and ask the public to be aware of strange smells and houses which have their windows covered or blacked out, heavy condensation on the windows and lights on at all hours.
A West Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: "Through this tough stance against cannabis factories, we are making West Yorkshire a hostile environment to the organised crime groups who tend to be behind these cannabis factories.
"We do not want them in West Yorkshire and if they want to cultivate cannabis here then they run the risk of being found and prosecuted."
Although 10 years ago the vast majority of cannabis in the UK was imported, charity Drugscope believes that more than 90 per cent is now grown in this country.
By Mark Hookham
August 26, 2009
Yorkshire Evening Post