Laughing gas: Wigan councillor calls for crackdown on widespread abuse

Recreational use of nitrous oxide is on the rise in the borough
Recreational use of nitrous oxide is on the rise in the borough

A Wigan councillor is calling for the town hall to take civil enforcement action to stop the widespread use of laughing gas in the borough.

Coun Anthony Sykes, of Ashton ward, says that the council should use a Public Space Protection Order (Pspo) help crackdown on people using nitrous oxide.

Coun Sykes

Coun Sykes

Related: Special Report: Laughing gas use on the up in Wigan

The Labour councillor says that the law is not sufficient to secure prosecutions against people selling or using the gas, which can be deadly.

After months of cleaning up empty gas canisters in Ashton, Coun Sykes says he feels there is “no choice” but to introduce the civil enforcement in his area, a move which would see people receive a fine or fixed penalty notice if they were found using it.

“There are two problems with the use of nitrous oxide,” he said. “There is the littering, which is a real issue in Ashton, but there’s also the dangers of the abuse itself.

“This has been linked to deaths.

“I was elected in May 2018 and I have been cleaning the canister up since way before then, even when I didn’t know what they were.

“It started to escalate into the hundreds.”

Coun Sykes said that despite an arrest in Hilton Street car park, where people were found in possession of a “large quantity” of the laughing gas canisters, no prosecutions were brought because the substance itself has a legitimate use.

Although it is illegal to supply nitrous oxide for recreational use, it is difficult to prove unless the users are caught in the act. “The law doesn’t appear to be fit for use,” he added.

“The police literally need to see illicit use. It’s incredibly frustrating.

“There is a real problem in Ashton, a massive problem and arrests have been made but prosecutions just can’t take place.

“That’s why I am calling for this Pspo in Ashton. We could use it to cover other substances too.

“It’s quite sad that it has come to this really.”

Coun Sykes says that he will be asking the council to consider bringing in a Pspo in Ashton for the good of his community and the safety of the people using the gas.