Concerns have been raised over the potentially dangerous use of laughing gas by teenagers on the Fylde coast.
Small canisters, believed to be laughing gas containers, have been found at parks across Wyre and Coun Barry Birch is concerned a major problem is developing.
He said: “I’ve come across a large number of these items at Cottam Hall playing fields in Poulton.
“But I know they are also being found at Stanah in Thornton and at the Skippool Car Park.
“I am concerned that these canisters are a sign young people are taking Nitrous Oxide as a recreational drug.
“At Cottam Hall 40 or 50 of these canisters have been found which suggests this is happening on a significant scale.
“I am concerned young people may be taking this without knowing the potential affects or dangers.”
Coun Birch, a former magistrate and chairman of the bench, is calling on members of the public to be on the lookout for signs of laughing gas being used.
Small silver canisters are a giveaway.
The Gazette has seen similar items discarded at King George’s Playing Fields in Thornton.
The drugs advice website Frank warns use of laughing gas can be potentially deadly.
Nitrous oxide is most commonly inhaled through the mouth. Because it is a pressurised gas in the canister, there is a risk of harming yourself if you inhale nitrous oxide straight from the canister.
The method can lead to sudden death due to a lack of oxygen.
Lancashire Police is increasing patrols to some of the areas where concerns have been raised over the use of the gas.
PC Craig Brown said: “I have spoken with Coun Birch about his concerns and about where Nitrous Oxide canisters have been found.
“I have not seen this happening myself.
“But this issue is now on our radar and I will be including Cottam Hall on regular patrols.
“We are aware of other issues at the park, including some minor vandalism and have been in contact with some of the sports clubs based there
“If anyone has concerns about this or any other anti social behaviour they should contact police on 101.”
Nitrous oxide is a colourless gas. Some people say that it has a slightly sweet smell and taste.
It is normally bought in pressured canisters, varying in size and depending on what it will be used for.
The gas is commonly transferred to a container such as a balloon from which it is inhaled.
Earlier this year police in Manchester warned young people using the gas were taking an ‘exceptional risk.”