A 54-YEAR-OLD man has been arrested after a cannabis factory was discovered in Winchester city centre.

In the early hours of this morning, Monday, November 20, officers executed a warrant at a building in Upper Brook Street.

Inside, officers discovered a large number of cannabis plants at various stages of growth.

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A scene remains in place while officers determine the exact scale of the production and number of plants. The plants will be seized and destroyed.

As part of the police enquiries, the man, from Winchester, has been arrested on suspicion of producing a controlled drug of class B. He remains in custody while enquiries continue.

The warrant was carried out by officers from the Winchester Priority Crime Team, Neighbourhood Policing Team, Criminal Investigation Department, Joint Operations Unit, Licensing and Intelligence Operations.

Inspector Matt Kirby said: “We will continue to investigate what we have found today to bring those responsible to justice.

“The reason why we take this kind of thing so seriously is because any production of drugs is linked to hidden harm.

“Large-scale operations are often run by organised crime groups, who are often connected to very serious violence.

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“The electrical equipment and building modifications needed to grow this many plants are also incredibly dangerous and can be a huge fire risk.

“We encourage people to continue to report suspicious behaviour and suspected drug dealing in your area to the police, as the information you provide helps us develop the bigger picture that leads us to take action and remove drugs from the streets.

“Finally, we are very aware that our actions took place in a busy city centre. We have tried to minimise disruption as much as possible, and we would like to thank the local community for their patience.”