James Brokenshire has given his support to work by the Bexley Youth Council to highlight concerns over the use of legal highs, including Nitrous Oxide in Bexley. James has taken up the issue with the Home Office, Department for Education and Bexley Police.
The Crime Survey for England and Wales showed that, in 2013/14, 2.3% of adults (16-59) and 7.6% of young people (16-24) had used Nitrous Oxide in the past year. Due to the relatively recent appearance, no formal data is available locally, although residents often report anecdotal evidence of nitrous oxide use, often based on the small, silver canisters left behind.
The Government is clear about the health risks and that Nitrous Oxide not be experimented with. In response to its increasing prevalence, the Home Office ran a programme of communications activities between July and October 2014 to highlight the dangers to young people.
The Police are also have powers to arrest those selling, including over the internet, any substance for the purpose of intoxication by inhalation to anyone under the age of 18 and, since October last year, are able to use Community Protection Notices and Public Space Protection Orders to break up groups who may be gathering to use or trade Nitrous Oxide and other legal highs.
Commenting on the issue, James said:
“Since receiving information from the Bexley Youth Council about their concerns, I've made a number of enquiries to the Home Office, the Department for Education and the Police. I am pleased to read of the efforts being made to prevent the misuse of Nitrous Oxide.
“I shall continue to work with Bexley Youth Council and congratulate them for their important work in highlighting this issue. It is important that we continue to highlight this issue in schools through PSHE lessons and improved awareness for parents and students alike."