Sandwell Council approves Public Spaces Protection Order on Nitrous Oxide

10th November 2021

Sandwell Council’s cabinet agreed on Wednesday 3 November on a proposal to introduce a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) on the inappropriate possession of Nitrous Oxide.

The PSPO makes it an offence for any person, when requested by an authorised officer, not to surrender any Nitrous Oxide canisters, with effect from 1 December 2021 for a period of three years. The PSPO is intended to help combat crime and anti-social behaviour in the borough and support public health.

Nitrous Oxide is a depressant drug, which when inhaled can make people feel happy, relaxed and giggly, hence the name ‘laughing gas’. It is not illegal to possess nitrous oxide for legitimate commercial use such as catering. However, it is illegal to sell or give away to someone who wants to use it for its psychoactive effects under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016.

The inhalation of Nitrous Oxide in public places is closely linked with antisocial behaviour as well as noise and gatherings and litter caused by the discarded cannisters. Prior to the implementation of the PSPO, unless an individual was caught littering there were no powers available to enable any form of intervention.

The litter caused by discarded nitrous oxide cannisters is a borough-wide issue for residents and is regularly raised as an issue at every Town Tasking meeting. The discarded empty canisters both litter areas and pose risks to children, the wider public, wildlife and workers when they get entangled in grass cutting machinery.

Cabinet member for community safety Councillor Bob Piper said:

“Increasingly in recent years the use of Nitrous Oxide as a recreational drug has become a real concern both in Sandwell and nationally, which is why we conducted a public consultation earlier this year to hear residents’ views. 95% of respondents supported the introduction of this PSPO. The main reasons people gave for supporting the PSPO were the littering of discarded canisters, anti-social behaviour and worries around children coming across discarded canisters.

“As part of delivering a cleaner, safer Sandwell we have listened to residents and are happy that the order will soon be in place to start to deal with this issue.”

Published: 10th November 2021