Getting serious about misuse of laughing gas

laughing gas

Silver laughing gas canisters litter a street. - Credit: Tower Hamlets Council

Tower Hamlets Council wants to introduce new legal powers to help it tackle the use of psychoactive substances and laughing gas.

It has opened a public consultation into plans to bring in a public space protection order (PSPO) in the borough, which would allow it to ban activities deemed “detrimental” to residents and fine those who do not comply.

It would give police and enforcement officers additional powers to confront people they believe are using or selling laughing gas and confiscate the nitrous oxide canisters.

The gas, which is used in the catering industry to whip cream, is commonly inhaled to give a short-lived head rush.

It has been illegal to sell or import nitrous oxide for its psychoactive effects since 2016.


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In the past three years the council has attempted to step up its campaign against the use of laughing gas after saying it cleans up millions of the silver gas canisters from streets every year.

Several shops in the borough have already faced police raids and the loss of their licences since Tower Hamlets l launched its “No Laughing Matter” campaign in 2017.

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The consultation asks residents if they believe a PSPO is needed and whether it should cover the entire borough or certain streets.

A council spokesman said: “We are consulting on proposals to introduce a PSPO to tackle the issue of antisocial behaviour linked to the recreational use of the psychoactive substance, nitrous oxide.

“A PSPO can be put in place to deal with a particular nuisance in a particular area that is having a detrimental effect on the quality of life for those in the local community.

The consultation closes on Monday, February 15. Visit https://talk.towerhamlets.gov.uk/pspo-no

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