Laughing gas canisters found at Lake Meadows

Article by Guy Bell: Discarded laughing gas canisters are a "cause for concern" as teenagers have been seen experimenting with the drug in a popular Billericay park.

The containers were found scattered across the grounds of Lake Meadows, just yards away from a children's play area, when the Gazette visited last Friday.

Councillor Jim Devlin, chairman of Billericay Town Council, is shocked the town has become the latest hotspot for the drug.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Cllr Jim Devlin"]It is worrying from the point of view that something has appeared in the town that we have not suffered from before. It is concerning for the kids involved and their parents. The main concern is for the health of the people who are taking it.[/quote]

Nitrous oxide is used by dentists and doctors as an anaesthetic and gives users a sense of euphoria after inhaling. It is potentially lethal, as it displaces oxygen in the body, and those with breathing problems are most vulnerable.

While the use of nitrous oxide is not illegal, selling the gas has been made a criminal offence under laws passed in May.

Those caught selling it can face up to seven years in prison.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Cllr Jim Devlin"]Some people can react badly to it and it can have bad effects on breathing. There were people going round the West End selling these canisters because it wasn't illegal and this is the first time I have heard a report of it in Billericay.[/quote]

Use of nitrous oxide has not been limited to Lake Meadows, with complaints of empty canisters in Queens Park.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Cllr Jim Devlin"]Places people hang out at are the Hannakins Farm area, the car park and sports centre and the car park at the Co-op. These parts of the park are open all the time.[/quote]

A lack of places for teenagers in Billericay to visit during the summer holidays is something Cllr Devlin believes could be at the root of the problem.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Cllr Jim Devlin"]Those involved with this laughing gas are probably student age rather than youngsters. It is the under-18s that come into this park and use it and that is why it is even more worrying. During the summer they need something to do and there needs to be somewhere for them to go. The popular spot for these particular teenagers to meet is the small shelter next to the skate park.[/quote]

Read original article by Guy Bell, Ongar Gazette

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