PRESTWICH councillors have said that criminals are mistaken if they think the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will afford them cover to commit offences, following recent raids on drugs farms in the town.

They also praised the actions of police and residents to tackle these "disturbing" and "concerning" crimes.

It comes after an "extremely dangerous" cannabis farm, capable of producing an estimated £1 million worth of drugs, was uncovered at a property in Nursery Lane, on Saturday.

It was the second major drugs find in Prestwich in a matter of weeks.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Steve Wright, who represents Holyrood Ward, which includes the Nursery Road area, said: “It is disturbing to find that there have been a number of cannabis farms operating in Prestwich and I’m very glad that the police have been able to put two of them out of operation in recent weeks.

"People in the Prestwich area have been increasing worried about crime in recent years, so we would encourage the police to continue to be take action to tackle illegal drug use in the area.”

These sentiments were shared by Labour Councillor Jane Black, who represents St Mary's Ward.

Cllr Black said: "This incident, and the previous one reported, are very concerning, and thanks must go to our hardworking local police for the effective action they have taken.

"If these, or any other criminals, had any thoughts that they could operate more easily in Prestwich under cover of the coronavirus pandemic, this shows that they were wrong.

"It is also good to see that the alarm was raised by neighbours.

"Anyone worried about any kind of crime should call the police directly on 101 to report this."

Prestwich neighbourhood officers acted on a tip-off last week to raid a house in Nursery Lane, where a large drugs farm was then found.

Some 500 cannabis plants were seized from the property and a man was arrested on suspicion of cultivating the drug.

The man was also wanted by immigration officials, police said.

Images captured by officers showed a room in the house thick with rows of potted cannabis plants, as well as heaters and fans on the ceiling, and insulation on the walls.

Criminals responsible for the operation were found to have an "extremely dangerous" set up, as they had wired their electrical supply directed into the national grid through a connection beneath the property's lawn.

Electrical engineers then had to be called in to dig up the garden and cut of the mains supply.

Police later confirmed that the cannabis will be incinerated and the arrested man had been interviewed and released under investigation.

The successful drugs raid was the second in Prestwich in less than a month.

Neighbourhood officers also made three arrests after a house in Bury Old Road was raided on April 22, leading to the discovery of dozens of plants.