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Brits like Surrey’s grow op bylaw

Surrey’s successful marijuana grow operation initiative has caught the attention of Britain, which is facing similar problems with home-based plantations.

Dr. Darryl Plecas, a criminology professor at University College of the Fraser Valley, is co-author of Surrey’s Electrical Fire Safety Initiative (EFSI), which allows fire crews to issue warnings of inspection to suspected grow operators.

Failure to allow the inspection results in power being cut off to the home.

With the EFSI, Surrey shut down 830 grow ops in this city last year, and there are an estimated 30 left.

British officials have been watching.

Plecas will be presenting new research this week on how B.C. is successfully dealing with grow-ops at the prestigious Oxford Round Table held at England’s Oxford University.

“There are some indications we are starting to have a decrease in the number of grow-ops in B.C., and that’s quite unlike the rest of the world,” Plecas told Black Press Friday.

Dramatic increases in illegal grow ops are being reported in industrialized countries around the world, he said, and because they are “mirror images” of grow op technologies used here, “some attribute their problem back to B.C.”

Traditional law enforcement strategies to control them has not worked, but dealing with grow-ops as health and public safety hazards as well – like the EFSI municipal bylaw – seems to be turning the tide in B.C.

“Our research has focused on using alternatives to the traditional criminal justice system approach as an added enforcement tool,” Plecas said. “This involves addressing grow-ops as a public safety hazard, and involving partners such as fire departments and civic bylaw enforcement teams.”

The Oxford Round Table is a five-day invitation-only “think-tank” that provides an opportunity for select leaders in both the public and private sectors, as well as scholars, to discuss government policy.

The fact that UCFV has been invited to share findings garnered in cooperation with local partner agencies “really illustrates how seriously regarded our research is internationally,” Plecas said.

“People don’t understand that we do stuff (at UCFV) that has international applications,” he said, adding, “You’re never famous in your own backyard.”

The research paper that Plecas will present was co-authored by Parvir Girn, a crime analyst with the Surrey RCMP, Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis, and RCMP Supt. Paul Nadeau, director of the RCMP drug branch in Ottawa.

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