POLICE have warned that a surge in the number of people using ‘laughing gas’ in Dursley could lead to a fatal accident.

The town’s neighbourhood policing team found more than 100 discarded canisters used for taking nitrous oxide on Dursley’s War Memorial Recreation Ground over the past month.

PCSO Joshua Griffiths expressed concerns that the number of people taking the former ‘legal high’ was increasing as he spoke about the risks for people using the gas.

“It is concerning to find so many empty bottles that leads us to believe that so many individuals are taking this high,” said PCSO Griffiths.

“This high basically stops oxygen from getting to the brain, which could lead to the individual fainting, or in the worst case, death from taking too much of this drug.”

Nitrous oxide is a colourless gas, normally purchased in pressurised canisters. Although it has been legal in the past, since the Psychoactive Substances Act came into effect on May 26 this year, it is now illegal to supply or import nitrous oxide for human consumption.

PC Luke Moffatt said: “Police will have new powers to search individuals and properties for psychoactive substances, including nitrous oxide, where officers believe that it has been sold for the purpose to gain a psychoactive effect.

“Committing an offence within the act may lead to a prison sentence and/or a fine if found guilty at crown court.

“Our primary aim is to protect people from the harm caused by these often untested and unknown psychoactive substances.”

A depressant, the drug causes euphoria, relaxation and calmness but can make users dizzy and impair their judgement.

The most significant risk, however, is unconsciousness and death due to lack of oxygen. This occurs when the available oxygen for breathing is effectively pushed out by the nitrous oxide.

People in the area offered a variety of responses to the news, with many expressing their fears over the growing number of users and others suggesting ways of tackling the problem.

Hayley Hughes, posting in Facebook group Dursley Matters, said: “I see those canisters everywhere: in town, by the hospital, in the kid’s park. It’s worrying really.”

Sarah Parker, of Cam, added: “I’ve seen a few on the way to school in Cam too. My little boy nearly picked one up.”

Others explored why the drug may be so popular with young people.

Naomi Meakin said: “Education is the key. These kids need to be shown the real dangers of using these things. Show them real life users destroyed by these nasty drugs.”

Town council clerk John Kay said councillors shared concerns over the high volume of canisters found in the town.

“We will continue to work closely with our local neighbourhood policing team to raise awareness and tackle this and other anti-social behaviours on the recreation ground,” he said.

Dursley Neighbourhood Policing Team will attend secondary schools in the area to educate children about the dangers of psychoactive substances.

If you believe that you know someone who is involved in the supply of a psychoactive substance like nitrous oxide, call Gloucestershire Police on 101.

You can also contact the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their anonymous online form at crimestoppers-uk.org.

For more information on psychoactive substances, Talk to Frank can be contacted on 0300 123 6600 or via talktofrank.com