1. ITV Report

ITV Exposure finds torture and coercion in Britain's home-grown cannabis industry

Exposure: Britain's Booming Cannabis Business. Photo: ITV Exposure

The home-grown cannabis industry has links with the darkest elements of organised crime, including torture and coercion, with small hobby growers feeding in to a brutal black economy worth billions of pounds a new ITV Exposure has found.

ITV Exposure spoke to one criminal who robs growers of their crops and who freely admitted that he tortures people to get the answers he wants.

Exposure: Britain's Booming Cannabis Business ITV at 11.05pm on Wednesday

With access to cannabis growers and dealers, ITV Exposure found that as 80% of cannabis consumed in the UK is now home-grown and illegal cannabis production has become a multi-million pound business.

An anonymous former cannabis grower said he slept with a baseball bat by his bed as he was worried his crop will be robbed. He was coerced into turning over his home to drug growth after running up a £2,500 debt:

I have to sleep with a baseball bat just in case. Every morning I’d wake up and think my door is going to come off today.

If other drug dealers or other people who want to make a quick buck find out about it, I mean they’ll kick down your door and take whatever’s in there and if you’re in there, give you a good hiding.

– Anonymous former cannabis grower

Police say this is not an isolated case and that some people are coerced into cannabis cultivation. Sergeant Paul Court from the cannabis dismantling team of Merseyside Police says:

There are some people who are growing cannabis, who are doing it because they are being pressurised. And initially where they may have thought they could either get away with it or they could put up with the pressure, it’s got to a point where actually the level of criminality they have now been asked to become involved with has become too much and at that point they have made that decision that they are no longer willing to do it.

The grower may be right to be concerned as a criminal admits he gave up armed robberies - because the jail sentences were too long - to rob cannabis from growing houses. He tells ITV Exposure he tortures people to get the answers he requires:

We just beat the s--- out of them, unfortunately if we have to. You know what I’m saying.

Really the torture's like ‘pre-’ really because we want to know where things are. And where they’re hiding money and you know where the grows are and stuff... You don’t really want to go OTT on them because at the end of the day you just want the information out of them, you get me?

Yeah, but you know just give them a good beating on the legs, across the ribs and stuff like two by twos, you know what I'm saying? Hammers on their feet and their toes and stuff. And whack them a few times with hammers until they start talking.

I know it sounds bad and everything else but we ain’t there to make friends.

Exposure: Britain's Booming Cannabis Business. Credit: ITV Exposure

One anonymous grower said he sees the industry as having two levels - those who grow cannabis for their own consumption and those who grow it for profit. He says: ”To be honest, it's so easy to make money off this, but at the end of the day it's one of those two options, either you’re in it to make money or in it for the smoke.”

However one expert believes that there may be more links between the two:

There is this idea of a slippery slope, once you realise that you could make some money there may be a temptation for some growers to get more involved in the commercial side and to end up feeding into the established market despite the initial intentions of being separate from the real dealers.

– Dr Gary Potter, a lecturer in criminology at London South Bank University

Exposure: Britain's Booming Cannabis Business ITV at 11.05pm on Wednesday

Anyone affected by the issues raised in this programme can contact the FRANK Helpline on 0800 77 66 00 or contact them via their website