Police called at Ipswich cannabis farm - but left after getting no reply

A fire engine outside the home in Kitchener Road in Ipswich on Monday morning

Firefighters spent nearly 24 hours tackling the blaze which wrecked five homes. - Credit: Archant

The officer in charge of investigating reports of a cannabis farm in a house in Kitchener Road in Ipswich that was later damaged by fire has said he remains confident that correct procedures were followed.

And it emerged that police had knocked on the door of the house that turned out to be cannabis farm - but did not try to get in after there was no response to their call.

This week Suffolk police revealed there had been three anonymous reports about a cannabis farm in the street before the blaze on May 29 that seriously damaged five homes - leaving them all uninhabitable.

However, there was not enough firm evidence to take action or identify the premises at that stage. It had come from an anonymous source.

The owner of one of the homes said she had contacted Crimestoppers months before the fire to give them details - but nothing seemed to happen.

She said: "In my report, I said that lights were left on all day and night. Curtains were always closed. No coming and going as one would expect from people living in a house. The constant humming noise.

"A white van would visit on a regular basis, stop in the middle of the Road and throw black bags into the back and drive off, usually very late at night.

"If this isn’t 'hard evidence,' I don’t know what is!  My report and the detail given should have been enough for the police to at least knock on the door. Would a warrant be required just to do that?"

Most Read

Insp Matt Breeze said he had reviewed everything that had happened before the fire in the light of the concerns that had been raised and was confident that all correct procedures had been followed.

He said: "I didn't personally call at the house but members of the team did and there was no response."

There were very strict guidelines laid down before police could make a forcible entry to a premises: "You cannot just kick a door down without clear authorisation either under the Police Act or from a court."

In this case the threshold for such authorisation had not been reached.

Insp Breeze said he understood the frustration and upset caused to those who had lost their homes in the blaze: "I really feel for the residents. They are in a terrible situation and everyone wants to do all they can to help  but we have to operate within the rules."

The resident said she and her husband had lived for three weeks in a hotel before finding a property to rent while their home waits to be repaired. Their neighbour is still living in a hotel nine weeks after the blaze.

She said: "Thankfully we and our neighbour had good insurance cover, although this will go little way to replace all the sentimental possessions we have lost.

"This has been devastating for us to say the least, and even now we are still suffering from the trauma of everything."

A spokesman for Crimestoppers said all information given to them was in confidence - and they had no way of knowing where it had come from.