Epping Forest Youth Council’s drugs report, researched and written after a survey of local young people, has won the praise of 2 MPs.
Victoria Atkins, Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability said it was ‘heartening’ to hear about engaged and thoughtful young people focusing on a topic of real importance and that their work could reduce harm to their peers.
The report was published last summer after a survey of 80 young people deemed drugs one of the major issues facing young people in the district.
Youth councillors sent the report to Epping Forest MP Eleanor Laing who forwarded it to her colleague.
Nitrous oxide was identified as a particular problem so youth councillors took to the car parks and cleaned up over 550 laughing gas canisters in Epping Forest, Traps Hill, Loughton and Cornmill Lane, Waltham Abbey.
“The number of canisters we found whilst out and about is worrying and it shows laughing gas is a real issue for young people today,” said youth councillor Annabelle Yaman. “Through our drug awareness project, we hope to highlight the risks and make young people aware of the damage they are doing.”
Address the harms
Ms Atkins said that the government is working hard to address the harms of nitrous oxide in some of the ways suggested in the Epping Forest report.
Legislation is in place, she said, which carries a sentence of up to 7 years imprisonment for those supplying nitrous oxide for recreational use.
“While there are legitimate uses for the substance the government is aware of the risk of diversion into illicit use, and has published guidance for retailers to satisfy themselves that they are in compliance with the law,” she said.