A LARGE-scale cannabis farm worth hundreds of thousands of pounds has been discovered by police in an old church.

Shortly before 1pm on Thursday (June 23) police received information about a possible farm being housed inside Robert Young Memorial Church on Main Road in Crawcrook, Gateshead.

Officers attended the scene and entered the empty building, which was previously used as a community centre, and discovered around 350 plants thought to be worth around £350,000.

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Searches revealed a false floor had also been built inside the premises and the electricity bypassed.

The farm was dismantled and an investigation launched as part of Operation Sentinel, the Force’s flagship initiative tackling serious and organised crime.

Neighbourhood Inspector Alan Davison said: “As a Force, we take this type of criminality very seriously.

“We know that members of the public have differing views on cannabis.

"But the reality is that a farm of this size will turn a significant profit which will then be reinvested into further illicit activity such as trafficking, by organised criminals, who have little to no concern for the ripple effects their behaviour causes our communities.

“No one wants this type of activity on their doorstep as it presents a host of other issues – surprisingly cannabis farmers do not make good neighbours. Anyone living near an operation like this can expect to see a rise in anti-social-behaviour, theft and even violence.

“Many cannabis farms, such as this one, also bypass their electricity – creating a dangerous fire hazard. No-one wants to live near that which is why we are committed to tackling this type of criminality.

“If you suspect someone to be involved in drugs supply in your area, please report it to us and we will act on your information.”

If you see anything suspicious in your community, report it to police via the ‘Tell Us Something’ page on the Northumbria Police website or by calling 101. 

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