A 50-YEAR-OLD man from Prescot has been arrested after police discovered a cannabis farm worth an estimated £724,000 a year.

At about 4.05pm officers were called to a report that an alarm was sounding at an industrial unit on Globe Road, Bootle when the officers noticed the smell of cannabis coming from a neighbouring unit.

The fire service assisted police officers in gaining access to the unit and a cannabis farm containing 182 plants was located inside, along with a large quantity of dried cannabis.

The man was arrested on suspicion of production of cannabis and has been taken to a police station to be interviewed.

Community Inspector Ian Jones said: "Cannabis cultivation by criminal gangs can cause serious harm in our communities.

"Criminal groups involved in the cultivation of cannabis are usually involved in other serious organised crime and they often use industrial properties such as this, as well as residential premises.

"Our communities can help us stop these groups, who are only interested in making money, from turning houses, flats and business premises into potential death traps.

"Nobody wants to live or work next door to these places and we would ask that if you believe someone is using a property for this purpose, please tell us so we can take positive action and find those responsible for setting them up.

"The people who set up these farms often tamper with the electricity meters to steal electricity, and there will generally be a number of hot lamps hooked to overloaded electricity sockets as well as an extensive watering system.

"Electricity and water are never a good combination, and the fire service have seen an increase in the number of fires they have been called to as a result of fires caused by the crude systems put in place by the people who set up these farms."

Some of the signs that cannabis is being grown are:

• Strange smells and sounds

• Frequent and varied visitors to a property, often at unusual times

• Gardening equipment being taken into a property, such as plant pots, fertiliser, fans and industrial lighting

• Windows are sealed and covered or the curtains are permanently closed

• Heat from an adjoining property

• Birds gathering on a roof in cold weather

• Individually these activities may seem commonplace, however, together may indicate something more sinister

Anyone with information is asked to contact Merseyside Police social media desk via Twitter @MerPolCC or Facebook Merseyside Police CC.

You can also call 101 or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or via their online form at: https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/give-information.