Shocking figures show one cannabis farm has been found every SIX days in the Hyndburn policing area.
The Observer can reveal that 58 cannabis set-ups were discovered by officers across the borough in 2014/15 alone, totalling more than 2,200 plants.
The number has doubled from 29 farms found the previous year with a total of 25 of them being found in terraced houses.
Figures released from Lancashire Police under the Freedom of Information Act show the largest cannabis farm in the last 12 months totalled 504 plants and was found in the St Andrews/Knuzden area of Oswaldtwistle.
The second highest discovery was 239 plants in Great Harwood.
Lancashire Police said it is ‘certainly true’ they are executing more drug warrants and believe the increase is caused by the ‘austere’ economic times and a ‘greater demand’ for the drug.
The Central and Spring Hill area of Accrington proved to be the area’s cannabis hotspot with six separate farms busted over a 12-month period up until April this year.
Local councillor Munsif Dad said police action in the area over the last couple of years had seen “significant results”.
He added: “The more you go in the more you find and these people are still getting the necessary stuff to grow it.
“The police are concentrating on drugs as it can lead to anti-social behaviour and gangs.
“The community really appreciate their hard work.
“[The figures are] a cause for concern but more and more people are being found and brought to justice.
“You can’t take your eye off the ball.”
The area where the second highest number of cannabis set-ups was found in 2014/15 was the Barnfield, Peel and Woodnook area.
Barnfield ward councillor Tony Dobson believes the residents are now better able to spot the ‘telltale signs’ of cannabis production. He said: “I think there’s a lot more public awareness now. At residents’ meetings in the past it was never mentioned but people now know what to look for.
“They are looking at houses that are getting half a dozen visitors between 6pm and 8pm every day and where people never stay in the houses and just make a quick 20-second stop.
“People are starting to recognise the telltale signs and it’s a combined effort between more cohesive work with residents and police.”
'Because of its distinctive and powerful smell, it's very difficult to disguise'
Hyndburn police said the doubling of cannabis farms detected in the last year is probably a combination of higher production as well as public awareness.
The Neighbourhood Policing Team said the ‘overwhelming majority’ of drugs factory discoveries come from tip-offs from members of the public.
A spokesman said: “Cannabis production within communities is likely to have increased in recent times. This may be because there is a greater demand for the substance or it may be seen as economically viable in austere times to take the risk of producing it.
“However, because of its distinctive and powerful smell, it is very difficult to disguise the growing of cannabis, particularly in residential areas and those taking part in this illegal activity will find that we will act on information passed to us to disrupt and ultimately prevent those involved in the drugs trade from operating on our streets.
“They will sometimes detect it by its distinctive smell or by other means, such as people coming and going more frequently than normal or by the lighting or heating equipment used.
“Cannabis can have lasting physical and mental health effects on users as well as having a negative effect on our communities and fuelling other crime and we are determined to tackle that.”