Commissioner responds as possession of Nitrous Oxide to become criminal offence

Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey Lisa Townsend has issued a statement following news that the possession of Nitrous Oxide, also known as ‘laughing gas’, will become a criminal offence.

Read Lisa’s statement below:

Ensuring our communities are not only safe but feel safe is a key part of my Police and Crime Plan informed by residents in Surrey.

We know that the use of Nitrous Oxide is closely linked with anti-social behaviour and the small silver cannisters that litter our public spaces are a visible blight on our communities.

The recreational use of Nitrous Oxide can have dangerous side effects including damage to the nervous system and even death. We have also seen an increase in road accidents, including serious and fatal accidents, where the use of nitrous oxide has been a factor.

I welcome news from the Government that more will be done to limit the access to this drug as part of the wider focus on reducing anti-social behaviour in our communities.

I am pleased that this will specifically include a greater emphasis on retailers, who must do more to ensure that the sale of any potentially harmful product is carried out responsibly.

However, I remain concerned that banning Nitrous Oxide places a disproportionate emphasis on the criminal justice system including our police, who must meet increasing demands with limited resources.

Further criminalising Nitrous Oxide shifts the focus away from a partnership approach that can address community harm from multiple angles; including education, more opportunities for young people and better support for victims.

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