The UK government is said to be seeking advice on whether to make the possession of laughing gas a criminal offence.
Following what has been described as a “concerning” rise in the use of nitrous oxide, the Home Office has asked the independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to analyse the harm caused by the substance.
According to the Crime Survey, nitrous oxide – also known as laughing gas, “hippie crack” balloons, and nos – is now the second most-used drug among 16 to 24-year-olds in the UK – with more than half a million people in this age group in England and Wales using the drug in 2019-2020.
Its popularity is believed to be due to the fact that it is cheap and easy to get hold of.
A report by experts from the British Medical Journal (BMJ) released last June had revealed that there was “a visible mark of the increasing incidence of nitrous oxide (N2O) misuse” since the first COVID-19 lockdown began.
As defined by FRANK, nitrous oxide is “a colourless gas most commonly found in pressurised metal canisters [which] you may have seen lying around in streets outside bars and nightclubs”.
It is often consumed by “transferring the gas into a container (usually a balloon), then inhaling from the balloon” and this is because “inhaling nitrous oxide directly from the canister is very dangerous [as] the gas is under such high pressure, which can cause a spasm of the throat muscle and stop a person breathing.”
Nitrous oxide slows down brain and body responses and the effects of the drug is known to vary depending on how much has been inhaled.
Negative side effects of the inhalation of nitrous oxide include severe headaches, dizziness, inability to think straight, and short-lived, but intense feelings of paranoia. Regular use can stop you forming white blood cells properly and heavy regular use can result in deficiency of vitamin B12. Severe B12 deficiency can lead to serious nerve damage, causing tingling and numbness in the fingers and toes – which can be very painful and make walking difficult.
More serious side effects range from the risk of falling unconscious and/or suffocating from the lack of oxygen, which can and has lead to death, and according to the Office for National Statistics, there were 36 deaths in Britain associated with laughing gas between 2001 and 2016.
While the sale of nitrous oxide is illegal, it is not a crime to possess the drug at present, and the government believes this could also be a “significant factor” in its increasing use in recent years, alongside its prevalence.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said government ministers “stand ready to take action” if the ACMD recommends further restrictions on the drug.
Nitrous oxide was last reviewed by the ACMD six years ago.
The body concluded at the time that it did not warrant control under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, but the ACMD’s new review could recommend more education on the substance for young people, or tougher punishments for those who supply it.
“We are determined to do all we can to address this issue and protect the futures of our children and young people,” Priti Patel concluded.
Featured Image – Geoff Davies
The first bright yellow Bee Network bus has hit the streets of Greater Manchester
Greater Manchester residents will soon start to see bright yellow double decker buses travelling the region’s streets in the coming weeks.
With exactly six months to go before Greater Manchester “brings buses back under local control”, Mayor Andy Burnham has joined a number of other local leaders in unveiling the brand-new ‘Bee Network’ co-branded buses.
In what marks the biggest change to transport in Greater Manchester for almost 40 years, according to Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), bus operator Diamond – which currently runs services in Bolton – has teamed up with Go North West to run the first franchised services in Wigan, Bolton, and parts of Salford and Bury from September this year.
Diamond has agreed to start transforming their buses into Bee Network ones from this week, with more set to appear on the roads every month.
The first bright yellow double decker bus has now hit the streets of Bolton, and is serving the number 8 route – which connects Bolton and Manchester city centre via Farnworth and Salford.
As already announced by TfGM and Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), when franchising is officially introduced on 24 September 2023, 50 brand-new electric Bee Network buses will hit the streets on day one, alongside new ‘Euro VI’ vehicles, and dozens more co-branded buses from the existing fleet.
A further 50 electric buses will then be introduced onto the network in March 2024, which is when the second part of franchising starts.
All of the 270 new electric Bee Network buses will be fully accessible, with wheelchair bays, hearing induction loops, audio and visual announcement systems, and anti-slip flooring.
Mayor Andy Burnham said the first Bee Network bus entering service is “very much the start of our journey”, and added that the scheme will “ultimately deliver a greener, integrated and more inclusive transport system that will transform how people travel around our city-region.”
Transport Commissioner Vernon Everitt also called the first bus’s introduction onto the streets as “a further significant step” towards the integration of the Bee Network and the “transformation” of public transport and active travel in the region.
He continued: “From September we’ll also have dozens of new state-of-the-art buses serving passengers in Wigan, Bolton, and parts of Salford and Bury.
“These will be the first of many across Greater Manchester that will, alongside the new lower fares – which are already increasing ridership – and improvements to travel information, improve bus travel for everyone who lives and works here.”
Featured Image – TfGM
Stockport teacher filmed ‘throwing student to the floor’ after being kicked out of his lesson
A teacher at a school in Stockport appears to have been recorded throwing a student to the floor after kicking the child out of his lesson.
In the clip that began circulating on social media last week, a pupil from Harrytown Catholic High School can be seen being escorted out of a classroom by a teacher whose identity is yet to be released.
After an inaudible conversation takes place in the doorway as the student presumably tries to remain in the room, the teacher can then be seen grabbing the young student and pushing him out of the doorway.
Following a slight struggle, the teacher then seemingly pushes the child again, at which point he appears to fall to the ground and the video cuts out. The caption reads: “This is how teachers at Harrytown Stockport treat their pupils. Justice for Oliver”.
At this stage, it still remains unclear whether Oliver (whose age is yet to be confirmed) was intentionally thrown to the floor or simply fell following the momentum from the push.
Either way, it doesn’t look good and obviously hasn’t gone down well with students or their guardians
Harrytown is a secondary school in the Stockport village of Romiley, teaching children aged from 11-16, and was awarded ‘Good’ by Ofsted in its most recent rating. However, many parents now have found themselves in the comments slamming the institution.
One mother claimed that “a teacher pushed my child in that school, they denied it [and] my kids been out of school since”, with another alleging that “the girl that videoed it got excluded for 5 days”, adding that they went on to send it to Manchester Evening News.
Speaking of the MEN, as per a statement issued to the outlet, Interim Director of Children’s Services and Director of Education for Stockport Tim Bowman said: “We are aware of an incident that took place at the school and we are following all appropriate due processes. We cannot comment further at this time.”
As for the school itself, they also insist that they are aware of the video and are now investigating the situation but cannot provide any further information either.
Oliver’s family are also yet to issue any form of comment following the incident.