Drug worry after hundreds of laughing gas canisters discovered at shut-down Penwortham park

Human waste, picnic chairs, lager cans and hundreds of laughing gas canisters have been recovered from a shut-down Penwortham park.

By Catherine Musgrove
Friday, 21st August 2020, 10:27 am
Updated Friday, 21st August 2020, 10:28 am

South Ribble Borough Council made the dramatic move to close Pear Tree Park, also known as Middleforth Green, off Leyland Road, with immediate affect on Monday, following a weekend of social gathering, drinking and drug-taking.

>>> Read about the closure in full hereNow Penwortham Councillor Keith Martin has spoken out over widespread use of nitrous oxide in the area, known as laughing gas.

He said: “There were canisters all over the park, I was quite shocked to see it. Easily hundreds of them.

Waste collected from Middleforth Green

“I’ve seen people under the influence of this drug, and they lose all inhibitions. They do silly things like running off into the road.

“And long-term, there can be serious health implications - it limits the body’s ability to take up vitamin B12, and that can cause a lot of pain.

“But because there haven’t been a lot of deaths attributed to the use, it doesn’t get a lot of publicity, and people don’t realise how dangerous - and illegal - it is.”

He added: “The n there’s the littering side of things. The canisters would be quite slippery if you stood on them, they would block drains, and they come in a lot of packaging.”

Beer bottles and litter left on the park

Coun Martin said several complaints had also been made over people exposing themselves on the park while going to the toilet.

Signs have now been posted around the park and at its entrances, warning that the green space is now off-limits and those caught on the grass could face fines of up to £500.

If you spot gas canisters, do not touch them. Call your local borough council to remove them.

What is Nitrous Oxide?

Evidence of drug use on the park

- Also known as: balloons, nos, whippits, laughing gas, hippie crack, chargers.

- It is a colourless gas that’s most commonly found in pressurised metal canisters. Inhaling nitrous oxide directly from the canister is very dangerous because the gas is under such high pressure. It can cause a spasm of the throat muscle and stop a person breathing.

The risks:

If you take too much nitrous oxide you risk falling unconscious and/or suffocating from the lack of oxygen. People have died this way.

Other risks include:

- Dizziness, which might make you act carelessly or dangerously.

- Heavy regular use of nitrous oxide can lead to a deficiency of vitamin B12 and to a form of anaemia. Severe B12 deficiency can lead to serious nerve damage, causing tingling and numbness in the fingers and toes. This can be very painful and make walking difficult.

- Regular use can stop you forming white blood cells properly.

The law:

This is a psychoactive drug and is covered by the 2016 Psychoactive Substances Act, which means it’s illegal to give away or sell.

There’s no penalty for possession, unless you’re in prison.

Supply and production can get you up to 7 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.

Like drink-driving, driving when high is dangerous and illegal. If you’re caught driving under the influence, you may receive a heavy fine, driving ban, or prison sentence.

If the police catch people supplying illegal drugs in a home, club, bar or hostel, they can potentially prosecute the landlord, club owner or any other person concerned in the management of the premises.

For free, confidential advice, call FRANK on 0300 1236600