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Michael Gove Confirms 'Laughing Gas' Will Be Banned As Part Of Government Antisocial Behaviour Plans

Michael Gove said the "scourge" of laughing gas canisters must be addressed (Alamy)

3 min read

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has confirmed that laughing gas canisters will be banned as part of a government clampdown on antisocial behaviour.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is set to announce new government plans to tackle antisocial behaviour, as polling shows the public is increasingly concerned about low-level crime. 

Plans will include offenders being required to carry out repair work to spaces they have damaged as soon as possible after their offence, while being required to wear jumpsuits that will make them visible to the public. 

Gove has now confirmed reports that banning the laughing gas nitrous oxide will also form part of the plans. 

“We are doing it because if you walk through any urban park, you will see these little silver canisters, which are the evidence of people regarding public spaces as arenas for drug taking. That is unacceptable,” Gove told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg.

“People should feel that those spaces are being looked after in a way which means that they are safe for children, that they are not the recourse for people who want to engage in this sort of antisocial behaviour.”

The drug can have potentially damaging impacts on the brain, including impairment of memory and cognition, as well as a risk of fatal asphyxiation. 

“If you tolerate low-level disorder, then you lose the attractiveness and security that everyone has a right to expect in public space,” Gove added.

Three weeks ago, Labour MP Rosie Duffield asked Sunak about whether the government would take “urgent action” on the use of nitrous oxide by children and teenagers.

“Instead of criminalising the young people who buy nitrous oxide, isn't it time to take urgent action against those knowingly selling this harmful and potentially life-changing substance to children under age?” Duffield asked during Prime Minister’s Questions.  

Labour have pledged their own plans to tackle antisocial behaviour if they get into power at the next election, including a range of new community punishments and orders to target repeat offenders. 

Ministry of Justice figures show only 71,138 community sentences were given out in 2021, a fall from 189,333 in 2010.

Describing tomorrow’s government announcement as a “comprehensive plan”, Gove explained that more uniformed officers will be placed in hotspot areas with antisocial behaviour problems. 

He also said that the country needs to see faster prosecution of very serious crimes such as sexual offences. 

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