Killer laughing gas warning issued as thousands of canisters are found across Newark and Sherwood
Reckless individuals have been warned about using a killer laughing gas as thousands of canisters have been found across the district.
Nitrous oxide, known as laughing gas or Noz, comes in small canisters and are bought for catering purposes, but are recreationally used for a high when inhaled.
Newark and Sherwood District Council has launched its Say No To N.O. (nitrous oxide) campaign to try and deter drug users and other vulnerable individuals from abusing the substance.
Police and the district council said despite the dangers of the gas, empty canisters have been found all over the district, including Sconce and Devon Park and the Riverside carpark in Newark, Tipping Wood in Blidworth, and secluded laybys.
It is working with Newark Police and Change Grow Live — a charity specialising in substance misuse to raise awareness of the dangers to both users themselves and the public.
"The substance has already been linked to a number of deaths and it is so important that those using them know that they are putting both themselves and the public in danger," said council leader David Lloyd.
"We believe users of varying ages are congregating, sometimes in cars, inhaling the gas as a recreational activity and then subsequently discarding the empty canisters on the ground.
"As well as the clear and very obvious health dangers, littering in itself is illegal.
"Our street cleansing teams and park rangers are receiving regular reports of the canisters being dumped, but especially in locations such as Sconce and Devon Park which is regularly used by families and young children.
"We have to ensure these are removed straight away to ensure the space is kept safe, tidy and free from danger."
It is known the inhalation of the gas slows down the brain and body's responses, as well as, leaving the user unable to think straight, and causing fits of laughter.
It can also lead to hallucinations and breathing difficulties in some people, while for others it can bring on a sudden and immediate headache.
The council is also stepping up its monitoring of the issue and is using its officer patrols and CCTV surveillance across the district to identify those taking the drug.
Parents are also encouraged to stay on the look out for the silver metal containers and talk to their children of the dangers if any are found.
Inspector Heather Sutton, divisional police commander for Newark and Sherwood, said: "This is a worrying trend that puts our community at risk. Someone driving after they have inhaled nitrous oxide could be guilty of drug driving offences — it is an offence to drive, attempt to drive or be in charge of a vehicle and you are unfit to do so because you are on legal or illegal drugs.
"If you are convicted for drug driving you will get a minimum one year driving ban, an unlimited fine, up to six months in prison and a criminal record.
"This will remain on your driving licence for 11 years and future car insurance costs will significantly increase."
Secondary schools will be invited to join the campaign and take part in educational assemblies with the council to raise awareness of the deadly gas.