A specialist team are to begin assisting officers to search a building in Leeds due to the presence of asbestos.
A scene has been in place at the premises at the junction of Dewsbury Road and Oakhurst Avenue, Beeston, since 27 September 2018 when a cannabis factory was discovered there after a warrant was executed by officers from Leeds District Serious Organised Crime Unit.
A number of cannabis plants were removed for destruction before the presence of asbestos was identified and the scene sealed off.
Asbestos, which is present in many buildings, can present a serious health risk if fibres are inhaled when the material is damaged or disturbed. It was found that makeshift alterations had been made to walls and ceilings in the building which had exposed the asbestos and increased the risks.
The building still needs to be fully searched and the potential risk presented by the asbestos is beyond the standard safety equipment and training available to officers. The specialist staff involved have the training and capability to work in hazardous environments.
They are due to be at the scene from today (Tuesday 11 December) and will be using protective equipment and vehicles.
Detective Inspector Phil Jackson, of Leeds District Serious Organised Crime Unit, said:
“This is proving to be a very lengthy operation but the safety of any staff entering the building has to remain our main consideration.
“The health risks posed by exposed asbestos are very serious and we need to take all relevant precautions to ensure we can complete a search of the building in safety.
“An assessment of the situation has led us to request assistance from specialists who can safely access hazardous environments such as this.
“We recognise that this increased activity at the site could cause unhelpful speculation which is why we wanted to let people know what is happening.
“This is solely due to the asbestos issue, which we are satisfied does not present a risk to anyone in the general area.
“We hope to be able to conclude the activity at the scene as soon as is practicable and we would like to thank the local community for their patience.”
This post is based on a press release issued by West Yorkshire Police