‘It’s no laughing matter’: Southwater police in nitrous oxide campaign

Empty canisters of nitrous oxide in a car park in Horsham this week
Empty canisters of nitrous oxide in a car park in Horsham this week

Police volunteers in Southwater have produced a poster raising awareness of the dangers of legal high nitrous oxide.

Last week, the County Times reported that officers stopped a person in Horsham with 100 canisters of the drug, also known as laughing gas or ‘hippy crack’.

Southwater Community Police Office's nitrous oxide awareness poster

Southwater Community Police Office's nitrous oxide awareness poster

Nancy Brock, a volunteer for Southwater Post Office, said: “It would appear this issue is spreading further afield than just Horsham as they have also been found on a number of occasions in Southwater, too.

“Discarded empty canisters have been found around the village and have subsequently been handed into the Southwater Community Police Office by concerned residents.

“Added to the news a few months ago of a London teenager who died from the use of this legal high we took the decision a couple of months ago to run an awareness raising campaign round the village.”

Possession of nitrous oxide is legal. Officers have no power to seize the canisters unless an offence, for example selling to children, is suspected.

Popularity of the gas, which is now the fourth most used drug in the UK according to the Global Drug Survey 2015, has rocketed in recent years.

There have been 17 fatalities related to the use of laughing gas in the UK between 2006 and 2012, according to research.

The anaesthetic gas is still used for pain relief during dentistry and childbirth.

Researchers say that the number of people who die from inhaling nitrous oxide is low when compared with the number of people taking the drug every year.

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