Tamworth Borough Council and Tamworth Police are reaching out to local schools to join an awareness campaign about the increasing use of a recreational drug, Nitrous Oxide (N2O or Laughing Gas).
The week-long campaign aims to deliver school sessions and share videos about the dangers of nitrous oxide starting from October 19. Pupils in secondary schools will be shown an awareness video, and an online Safe+Sound session will be available on Wednesday, October 21, to Year 5/6 pupils across Staffordshire via Learn Live: https://learnliveuk.com/safesound/
Both nationally and locally there have been reports about the increase in the use of Nitrous Oxide, the tell-tale signs of its use are small silver canisters discarded in public areas and parks, but apart from being a hazard to children, wildlife and a growing litter issue, the drug can be fatal.
Used in catering, it is available cheaply, easily and without any control or restriction. This ease of access has led to an explosion in its use as a recreational drug. The discarded canisters have become a familiar sight in laybys, bus stops and parks.
The supply of nitrous oxide for recreational purposes is illegal under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016, this means anyone found to be selling or giving away nitrous oxide for illicit purposes could face up to seven years in prison and or an unlimited fine.
However, it is widely available from catering suppliers, online retailers and other outlets without any restriction or control. As well as being easily available, it costs just a few pounds, and is a drug that has limited public exposure and educational awareness.
Cllr Robert Pritchard, Deputy Leader of Tamworth Borough Council, launched a petition earlier this year to call for action by the government to address growing nitrous oxide (N2O / laughing gas) abuse. The petition attracted more than 11,000 signatures.
Cllr Robert Pritchard said: “The unknown nature of this drug is fuelling its wide spread use and I am glad the petition has attracted so much support. I don’t think people know how much laughing gas is used in Tamworth and the damage it can do.
“I have seen people using the drug in broad daylight, with users throwing canisters out of car windows. This has to stop and the idea of people driving while on this drug terrifies me.”
He added: “The canisters are being found all across Tamworth and are now a daily find on any litter pick or walk in the park. Nowhere is untouched by them and it is especially upsetting when children find large stashes of the canisters after they are discarded.”
Chief Inspector Paul Talbot, Tamworth Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Our neighbourhood policing team is working with partners to educate young people about the dangers of nitrous oxide as part of educational input with schools.
“Unfortunately its use is often accompanied by anti-social behaviour and while possession of it isn’t illegal, we’ll look to offer advice to those who choose to use it and consider safeguarding where necessary.
“It is an offence under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 to supply the drug for its psychoactive effect. Anyone with information on the supply of nitrous oxide is encouraged to contact us online, via direct message on social media or by calling 101.”