Nottinghamshire Police is warning young people and parents about the dangers of inhaling nitrous oxide, also known as ‘laughing gas’ or ‘Nos’, after making a number of arrests connected with its supply.
The warning comes after officers and local authorities have reported finding empty small silver canisters while patrolling in neighbourhoods, especially where young people are known to meet including parks, car parks and other public areas.
Police are increasing patrols in areas where there’s evidence of nitrous oxide use and are working alongside partners, including Nottinghamshire County Council, to raise further awareness of the dangers of inhaling the substance.
The force is also calling for parents to be vigilant for signs that their children may be purchasing the substance online.
Supplying nitrous oxide for recreational purposes is illegal under a section of the 2016 Psychoactive Substances Act, and you could be hit with a prison sentence of up to seven years, an unlimited fine or both for selling it.
Someone driving after they have inhaled nitrous oxide could also be found guilty of drug driving offence.
Chief Superintendent Rob Griffin, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “This is a worrying trend that puts the communities we serve at risk.
“Inhaling nitrous oxide can be dangerous and can lead to loss of blood pressure, heart attack, unconsciousness and can ultimately lead to death.
“The health risks are likely to be exacerbated if the exposure to the gas is combined with alcohol or other drugs.
“I’m urging our young people to really think about their actions and the possible consequences it could have including serious damage to their health or worse.
“Please ask yourself if the risks of inhaling this substance are really worth it?
“I’m also asking parents and families to support us by being vigilant for the signs of nitrous oxide and to talk to their children about the risks associated with it and ensure they are safe.
“I would also ask our local communities to help us keep people safe. If you see any suspicious activity where you think nitrous oxide is being consumed, please report it to Nottinghamshire Police on 101 and our officers will visit the area.”
Nottinghamshire County Council is working closely with Nottinghamshire Police and other local partners to minimise the harms caused by substance misuse to individuals and communities. This is done through partnership activity focused on restricting supply, reducing demand and providing appropriate advice, support and treatment when needed.
Jonathan Gribbin, Director of Public Health for Nottinghamshire, said: “Together with Nottinghamshire Police and the Crime Commissioner, we have commissioned Change Grow Live, a drug and alcohol service for young people, adults and Nottinghamshire families.
“As lockdown restrictions eased, the service observed an increase in young people coming together to spend time with their friends and it is recognised that young people could be putting themselves at risk of the harmful effects of substance use.”
Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping said: “The apparent rise in the use of nitrous oxide across the country is worrying, particularly with young people now spending increasing amounts of time together following lockdown.
“It is vital they are made fully aware of the dangers they face – it is not only illegal to supply this substance but it is also extremely dangerous and there are serious side effects, with users risking potential unconsciousness or death.
“I welcome the partnership work underway to target those distributing this drug within the community and support young people, adults and their families who are impacted by substance misuse. Young people must be encouraged to think again before making a decision that could cost them their lives.”
Rachel Nicholls, Services Manager at Change Grow Live, said: “Our service aims to keep people safe and offer practical advice and support.
“We have recently launched a campaign called #helpyourmate specifically to promote harm reduction advice amongst young people at this time.
“If you are looking for advice or support about nitrous oxide, either for yourself or for a loved one, I’d urge you to contact Change Grow Live for support.”