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Not a laughing matter: Police crack down on sellers of 'deadly' nitrous oxide

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Not a laughing matter: Police crack down on sellers of 'deadly' nitrous oxide


Published by Anonymous for in Local Government and also in Communities, Legal

Not a laughing matter: Police crack down on sellers of 'deadly' nitrous oxide Not a laughing matter: Police crack down on sellers of 'deadly' nitrous oxide

Police in Hackney are going after street sellers of nitrous oxide, better known as 'laughing gas'.

More than 1,200 canisters of the 'legal high' were seized outside pubs and clubs in Shoreditch last Saturday night.

The canisters are used to fill balloons which are then sold for up to £5 to users who inhale the gas for a short rush.

The substance starves the brain of oxygen, making users light-headed and disoriented for a few minutes.

Though inhaling nitrous oxide is not illegal, Hackney Council is combating its sale by using Section 38 of the London Local Authorities Act 1990, which allows local authorities to enforce against unauthorised street trading.

And the council has warned users that the chemical is potentially deadly.

Earlier this month, a Londoner drowned after inhaling the gas at a festival in France before going for a swim.

In February, a 21-year-old chef died after inhaling shortly after hearing he was to become a father.

And in 2012, a 17-year-old student from North London died after suffering a heart attack and brain damage after inhaling what was being sold as ‘laughing gas’, but which actually contained other lethal gases.

Home Office figures show that 350,000 people aged 16-24 year used nitrous oxide last year.

As well has having their canisters seized during last weekend’s operation, nine people will be fined £150 for unauthorised street trading and several of them will also be fined £80 for littering.

One trader, who police had previously seen selling nitrous oxide, will be prosecuted and could face a fine of £1,000.
The seized items would have brought in about £6,000 for the offenders, say police.

Cllr Feryal Demirci, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said: “This so-called legal high can be extremely dangerous - not only does it put people at risk, it promotes anti-social behaviour. The empty balloons and nitrous oxide canisters also create a lot of litter in Shoreditch and Dalston, which is frustrating for residents, local traders and shoppers. It also costs taxpayers’ money to clean up.

“We want to send a message out to the thoughtless peddlers of this dangerous gas – they’re not welcome on the streets of Hackney and we will take action to remove them.”


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