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20 April 2016, 06:00
Police in Watford have issued a warning about the dangers of using nitrous oxide and are inviting pupils at schools in the town to take part in a poster competition highlighting the issue.
Herts Police say:
"Nationwide nitrous oxide, or ‘laughing gas’, is being used increasingly as a cheap recreational drug among young people. Officers in Watford regularly receive reports of large amounts of discarded canisters in the town’s green areas – such as Alban Wood, Harebreaks Recreational Ground, Garston Park and other locations."
Sgt Steve Alison (pictured), from the Watford Safer Neighbourhood Team, said:
"We regularly receive reports from concerned members of the public who have found collections of discarded canisters, often in parks or other green areas. Not only does this blight those areas but there are also serious health risks associated with using the gas incorrectly and its sale is often associated with crime. It is illegal to sell nitrous oxide to under-18s and gas offered for sale on the black market may even have been stolen from medical centres or businesses that have a legitimate use for it."
In January police seized a large nitrous oxide canister found at an address in Rickmansworth Road. The canister was suspected stolen and a teenage girl was served with a youth caution in relation to this.
To highlight the problem, Sgt Alison is inviting local school pupils to design posters highlighting the dangers of using nitrous oxide. The winning poster will be selected to be used in schools and public spaces around the town.
Nitrous oxide is a chemical gas being used increasingly as a cheap and recreational drug. While nitrous oxide is not a dangerous substance if used correctly, it can become addictive. The gas is usually used for medical purposes and is always given with oxygen or air under supervision. In the wrong hands and taken incorrectly, the user may risk injury, or even death, from lack of oxygen.
The gas can also affect your judgement & cause dizziness so increasing the likelihood of having an accident. It's especially dangerous to pregnant women.
When used on a long term basis, can lead to a number of health issues, including incontinence and nerve damage through depletion of B vitamins. It is illegal to sell it to children.
Competition entries should be marked for the attention of Sgt Steve Alison and delivered to Watford Police Station, Shady Lane, Watford, WD17 1DD, by May 14 2016.