SANDWELL: ‘Laughing gas’ order brought in
PIC: Gurdip Thandi LDR
Dangerous ‘laughing gas’ cannisters will be seized from young Sandwell people under a new crackdown – but bakers who use the gas have been assured they will not be raided.
Sandwell Council has agreed to bring a three-year public space protection order (PSPO) which will allow police and wardens to confiscate nitrous oxide cannisters and dish out fines of up to £100.
Authority bosses said the cannisters were not illegal as they are used in catering, such as in aerosol whipped cream cans, and dentistry and can be easily ordered online at low cost.
But they added parks and streets were being blighted by youngsters using balloons to inhale the gas to get high.
As well as the littering issue, the cannisters are considered a risk to animals and small children.
Councillor Bob Piper, cabinet member for community safety, said: “Most members will be familiar of the small nitrous oxide cannisters that litter our parks and gutters and tend to be consumed mostly late at night by young people for the purposes of a temporary high.
“It’s not actually illegal to buy these cannisters. I checked on Amazon and you can buy 40 of them for very cheap.
“They are used with balloons and the gas is consumed from the balloon. It gives a very temporary high. There have not been many deaths but it is potentially dangerous.
“The littering of these cannisters we find lying around is potentially dangerous for animals and young children who may pick them up. Also for people mowing the grass, they can be quite damaging.
“They are also considered by the public to be highly related to elements of anti-social behaviour.
“They are used in the production of cream cakes to pressurise out the cream into the cakes. We’re not going to be charging into a bakers and seizing their cannisters.”
He added the PSPO will complement the one currently in place aimed at stopping drinking alcohol in public spaces and will need to be renewed after three years.
Councillor Piper also said the order wouldn’t just be a punitive measure but also give officers the chance to engage with offenders and see why they do it.
Sandwell Council’s cabinet agreed to bring in the PSPO at a meeting on Wednesday (November 3).
Words: Gurdip Thandi, Local Democracy Reporter
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