Dirty deeds help gardens grow

They say that crime doesn't pay but yesterday one Norfolk project found out that where there's muck there's brass. As part of a police initiative to plough the proceeds of crime back into the community officers got their hands dirty and handed over two and a half tonnes of high-quality compost to a gardening scheme for people with physical and learning disabilities.

They say that crime doesn't pay but yesterday one Norfolk project found out that where there's muck there's brass.

As part of a police initiative to plough the proceeds of crime back into the community officers got their hands dirty and handed over two and a half tonnes of high-quality compost to a gardening scheme for people with physical and learning disabilities.

The manure was seized earlier this year after raids which uncovered a £1.6m network of ten cannabis factories in Norwich suburbs. Last month a Chinese gang of six men and two women was jailed for a total of 22 years at Norwich Crown Court. The judge ordered the destruction of the drugs and paraphernalia but police decided to put the 140 bags of compost worth more than £700 to good use.

Superintendant Jim Smerdon, from Norwich police, said there was a “wonderful irony” that criminals who had caused so much harm to the neighbourhood were unwittingly helping the community.


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He gave the gardening material to Norwich Day Services which, along with City College Norwich, is running a greenhouse project for adults with disabilities.

Mr Smerdon said: “It is fantastic to be able to donate this compost, which would undoubtedly have been used for criminal purposes, to help such a worthwhile community project.

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“We are increasingly looking at a variety of ways of not only catching and bringing criminals to justice but also making sure that wherever possible the proceeds of crime and the accessories to criminal activity are ploughed back for the benefit of the wider community.

“In this case I really hope that this donation benefits the people taking part in the greenhouse project.”

He added that the force is constantly looking at way to put seized property to a positive use. Electrical gardening equipment was also seized in the raids but must be destroyed as it does not meet health and safety standards.

The bags of compost will be used to rejuvenate greenhouses at the Ipswich Road base and also for use around the city in the Norwich In Bloom project.

Rob Bates, programme manager in foundation studies at City College Norwich, said: “Giving people with learning and physical disabilities the chance to become practically involved in a work environment is so beneficial to them.

“We have found that the experience of becoming involved in horticulture, both in terms of planting and flower arranging and the other associated activities, really does give a sense of fulfilment to our students and helps them to generate a whole range of practical skills.

“This donation of compost will be put to blooming good use both at the unit, in the college and across the city and we are very grateful to police for it.”

Sarah Stock, Norfolk County Council's manager for learning difficulties support and enablement service, the rejuvenation of the greenhouses was a very positive initiative. They have been neglected for the last two years.

She added: “The greenhouse project is a fantastic thing for us to be a part of and hopefully will provide some people with a pathway to employment in the horticultural field.”

The city college will be providing staff at the day services for five days a week initially, expanding to seven days a week in the future. At least ten students will be involved each day in working on the horticultural project.

The project supports Norwich In Bloom and provides a range of bedding plants, which are displayed across the city.

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