Blitz begins on dumping 'laughing gas' cannisters in streets

Carefully picking up the tiny cannisters that litter Wapping

Carefully picking up the tiny cannisters that litter Wapping - Credit: LBTH

A mass litter-picking operation has been carried out in Wapping to get rid of laughing gas cannisters dumped in the streets. 

It was the start of a blitz by police and council enforcement officers on anti-social behaviour in the East End.

The litter-picking marks Tower Hamlets Council relaunching its ‘No Laughing Matter’ campaign with the Met Police and housing associations to deal with antisocial behaviour linked to using nitrous oxide. 

Volunteers on neighbourhood litter pick in Wapping

Volunteers on neighbourhood litter pick in Wapping - Credit: LBTH

Volunteers joined enforcement officers who were called out to clear the mess left behind. They included members from St Katherine and Wapping ward panel and Cllr Sirajul Islam. 
“We listen to people’s concerns,” Cllr Islam said. “So we have relaunched our campaign to taking action against this antisocial behaviour.” 

The neighbourhood clean-up follows a public consultation showing anger at dumping gas cannisters which are littering neighbourhoods. 

The council introduced a Public Spaces Protection order in May which makes using nitrous oxide in the street an offence and giving enforcement officers power to issue on-the-spot fines. Enforcement officers have since issued 33 penalty notices, totalling £3,300.  

Mayor John Biggs said: “Nitrous oxide and its antisocial behaviour are a major concern to people, so we’ve ramped up efforts to clear the canisters left behind, which are a blight on our streets.”   

Deputation to town hall in 2018 in battle against Whitechapel's street drugs

Deputation to town hall in 2018 in battle against Whitechapel's street drugs - Credit: Mike Brooke

The issue reared up during the 2018 council elections when families in Whitechapel petitioned the town hall over the "losing battle with street drug dealers".

A deputation led by community activist Syeda Nasim urged councillors to reverse the public spending cuts to neighbourhood police support in order to deal with it. 

Syeda Nasim... in Whitechapel where cannister dumping and drug dealing was rife  

Syeda Nasim... in Whitechapel where cannister dumping and drug dealing was rife - Credit: Mike Brooke

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The public can now report seeing laughing gas being used on the streets to the council. 

But the ‘No Laughing Matter’ campaign is also aimed at those responsible for dumping the small two-inch cannisters, warning about damage to health from nitrous oxide misuse. 

Anyone concerned about a friend or relative or who needs support themselves is being advised to call 020-3011 1333 for those aged 11 to 19 or emailing Drug and alcohol treatment is offered to those aged 18 or over with support to family and friends by calling 020-3889 9510 or emailing   

The evidence... laughing gas cannisters littering streets in Whitechapel

The evidence... laughing gas cannisters littering streets in Whitechapel - Credit: Mike Brooke