Evidence of young people using the gas nitrous oxide has surfaced in Daventry, and now police want to make people aware of the dangers of inhaling it.
Nitrous oxide – N2O and commonly known as laughing gas – is legal to buy and has several legitimate uses. Inhaled it makes people feel euphoric and relaxed, some people also experience hallucinations.
But while it is currently legal, Daventry’s police point out that does not mean it is safe.
Worries have been raised after the tell-tale small gas canisters have been found at locations across Daventry.
Sgt Sam Dobbs said: “We’ve been aware of it for a while, but when we had our Staysafe meeting last month other people reported finding the canisters and balloons around the town. Others had seen them but weren’t aware of their use.
“We’ve also had instances of large clinical cylinders of it being stolen in Daventry on more than one occasion.”
PCSO Kirsten Bates said: “I go out on patrol and I might spot one. But when I spoke to the grounds maintenance people from Amey, the people who pick up litter, they said they found clusters of them all over. We’re now working with Amey to ensure if their staff find things that the locations get reported to us.
“It appears to be mainly in underpasses and parks. That makes us believe the drug is mainly being used by teenagers, probably under the age of 16.
“It’s not risk-free, people can die, or have long-term effects from it. But we’re also concerned that these young people are buying it from someone, and it is probably a dealer who doesn’t just sell nitrous oxide. Then you have the situation of young people who are trying this drug, who may be tempted to try other drugs, and dealers who have a ready market to push more traditional drugs onto.”
Sgt Dobbs said: “While nitrous oxide is not illegal, as a police force our first priority is protecting lives. If I saw a young person out using this drug and I think they are at risk of suffering significant harm I can take them into police protection for up to 72 hours. Failing that I can take them home to their parents.
“We want parents and carers to know what these canisters look like. People often inhale from balloons, so if your child has bought a large number, or you find them in bins, have a talk with them.
“People need to stop thinking about taking nitrous oxide as the equivalent of having a sneaky cigarette or just ‘Jonny being Jonny’. It is serious stuff and is more akin to sniffing glue and solvents.”
The police want help in identifying locations where people might be using nitrous oxide, particularly where the canisters or numbers of balloons are found.
Sgt Dobbs said: “Report it to us, the council, your local councillor – the information will get back to us.
“If you are concerned about your child talk to them, or if you need words of advice call us at Daventry Police Station, speak to a doctor, or when the schools go back a teacher.”