SURREY’S Police and Crime Commissioner has welcomed a ban on nitrous oxide amid warnings that the substance – also known as laughing gas – fuels anti-social behaviour across the country.
Lisa Townsend, who is currently hosting a series of engagement events in each of Surrey’s 11 boroughs, said the drug has a serious impact for both users and communities.
The ban, which comes into force this Wednesday, November 8, will make nitrous oxide a Class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Those who repeatedly misuse nitrous oxide could face up to two years in prison, while dealers could be sentenced to 14 years behind bars.
There are exemptions for legitimate use, including pain relief in hospitals.
Commissioner welcomes ban
Lisa said: “People living across the country will have seen the small silver canisters littering public spaces.
“These are visible markers demonstrating that recreational use of nitrous oxide has become a blight to our communities. It so often goes hand-in-hand with anti-social behaviour, which has an out-size impact on residents.
“It’s crucial to both myself and every Surrey Police officer that our residents not only are safe, but that they feel safe too, and I believe this week’s law change will contribute to that important goal.
“Nitrous oxide can also have a devastating impact on users, who can suffer effects including damage to the nervous system and even death.
“We’ve also seen an increase in collisions, including serious and fatal crashes, where the use of this substance has been a factor.
“I do remain concerned that this ban places a disproportionate emphasis on the criminal justice system, including police, who must meet increasing demand with limited resources.
“As a result, I will look to build on partnership working with multiple agencies in a bid to improve education on the dangers of nitrous oxide, provide more opportunities for young people, and better support those affected by anti-social behaviour in all of its forms.”