£100 fines in Tower Hamlets to curb use of laughing gas

Laughing gas canisters. Pic: Philafrenzy

Anyone caught using laughing gas in Tower Hamlets will be issued a fixed penalty notice of £100 or fined up to £1,000 if they fail to pay up.

The council say the Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) which came into force yesterday (May 20) will put an end to the anti-social behaviour often paired with the use of nitrous oxide.

Nitrous oxide, which is legally used by medical professionals, is also used by some to create a short-term high for recreational purposes.

According to the House of Commons Library, “Nitrous oxide is normally treated as a ‘psychoactive substance‘ under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016Producing, supplying and importing/ exporting psychoactive substances for human consumption is illegal.”

The PSPO has come into action following “significant concern” amongst residents, according to the Tower Hamlets council website.

The statement said: “The council and Tower Hamlets Homes have received complaints from local people who find it intimidating seeing groups of people taking Nitrous Oxide, which also causes a noise nuisance. The small metal canisters that contain it are often left on the floor as litter.”

The PSPO does not apply to legal uses of nitrous oxide, including valid medicinal use or food purposes regulated by food health and safety legislation.

Tower Hamlets is not the only borough banning the use of nitrous oxide as a recreational drug, following Lambeth council who first introduced this in 2015.

In 2018 a survey of over 200 Twitter users in Wapping posed the question of whether Tower Hamlets should ban laughing gas. The results equalled out as 90 per cent of voters choosing “yes”.

These figures came into place following 1.2 million used laughing gas canisters that were cleared from Tower Hamlets’ street by the council in 2018.

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