Nitrous oxide - No laughing matter
Many residents have told us that antisocial behaviour linked to the use of nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas, is a significant concern.
Both the council and our partners in police and housing associations have received complaints that it can be intimidating seeing groups of people taking it.
Nitrous oxide causes a noise nuisance and the small metal canisters that hold it are often left on the floor as litter, which creates a mess on our streets.
Nitrous oxide is used as pain relief during medical procedures such as dental work. It can also be legally bought for use in whipped cream dispensers.
Nitrous oxide can cause dizziness and affect the taker’s judgement. This can put people at risk of hurting themselves. Further research is taking place into its long-term effects, with some health conditions and deaths linked to its use.
What we are doing
We hope this information will discourage people from using nitrous oxide and also give parents information to talk to their children.
The council will also be talking to school children about the dangers and effects of nitrous oxide as part of the substance abuse programme.
Support is available for anyone who needs it:
Young people (11-19 years old) who are concerned or need support can contact Health Spot on 020 3011 1333 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
RESET Tower Hamlets offers drug and alcohol treatment to resident aged 18 or over and support to family and friends who are concerned about someone’s drug and/or alcohol use. Call 020 3889 9510 or email email@example.com.
We realise that the use of nitrous oxide is linked to antisocial behaviour, which is a concern for people.
Our consultation earlier this year on introducing a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) on antisocial behaviour caused by nitrous oxide received the most responses the council has seen.
98 per cent of respondents were in favour and the PSPO is now in full effect. This makes antisocial behaviour associated to nitrous oxide use an offence. It also gives council enforcement officers and local police the power to fine or prosecute against those who are causing antisocial behaviour and are in possession of nitrous oxide.
Our street cleaning teams are picking up discarded canisters from estates, parks and streets. They are also working with residents to clean up specific areas of litter caused by the use of nitrous oxide.
What you can do
You can report discarded canisters so we can clean them up and send them to be recycled. If they are on your estate, you should contact your landlord or caretaker.
If canisters are in streets or parks, away from estates, you can report them using the Love Your Neighbourhood app or online using the council’s street cleaning form:
Report nitrous oxide litter
You can also report antisocial behaviour hotspots in our borough to help us enforce our nitrous oxide PSPO:
Talk to your children
If you are a parent, please talk to your children about the dangers of nitrous oxide use, littering and antisocial behaviour.
If they are using nitrous oxide and involved in antisocial behaviour they are likely to come to the attention of police and council officers, which may lead to enforcement action against them.
You can get involved in tackling antisocial behaviour and other issues in your neighbourhood by joining your local Ward Panel, which helps to set local policing priorities.
Find out more about how to become a Ward Panel member on our Safer Neighbourhoods webpage.
That way we will be safer together.