Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry has welcomed a ban on the use of nitrous oxide as “a boost for fed-up residents.”
The substance, also known as laughing gas, became a Class C drug today (Weds 8 Nov) and could now land persistent offenders with up to two years in prison.
Commissioner Henry said she was aware that many people had become tired of seeing people inhaling the substance in public – often in parks and playgrounds in front of young children – and leaving metal cannisters strewn on the ground.
The change in the law will allow police to take tougher action to crack down on this type of antisocial behaviour.
“This is a huge boost for fed-up residents. People have a right to feel safe where they live and work and not be faced with open and blatant drug taking,” said Commissioner Henry.
“As the PCC, I cannot get involved in operational policing, but I am elected to represent the public in holding the force to account and I know from my ongoing engagement with the public that antisocial behaviour, particularly around drug use and dealing, is something that negatively impacts on local people and significantly affects their quality of life.
“This change in the law will allow our officers to take tougher action to prevent our public spaces being blighted by antisocial drug taking – which I expect will start to make people feel safer.
“I would urge residents to report it whenever they see it so that officers can target their resources effectively.
“I would also urge parents across Nottinghamshire to be aware of this change in the law and ensure you know what your children are up to.
“We know that there are people out there who think taking nitrous oxide is harmless fun, but the medical evidence shows otherwise, and now anyone who risks taking this short-term high, may come crashing down to earth with a bump with a criminal record – and even time in jail for persistent offenders. It’s just not worth the risk.”
Under the new law, the consequences for wrongfully misusing nitrous oxide could include:
- An unlimited fine.
- A visible community punishment.
- A caution (which would appear on their criminal record).
- Up to a two-year prison sentence for repeat serious offenders.
- Dealers face up to 14 years in prison (up from seven years).
Before the change in the law, enforcement was targeted at dealers. One recent incident in relation to nitrous oxide was when response officers arrested a 23-year-old man on possession with intent to supply a psychoactive substance after recovering ‘laughing gas’ cannisters inside the boot of a car that they stopped in Port Arthur Road, Sneinton, at 11pm on Wednesday 1 November.
Posted on Wednesday 8th November 2023