Youth councillors cleared up hundreds of laughing gas canisters from the district's streets.

As part of its campaign to reduced drug usage amongst under 18s in the area, Epping Forest Youth Councillors took to the car parks and cleaned up over 550 laughing gas canisters in Epping Forest, Traps Hill in Loughton and Cornmill Lane in Waltham Abbey.

Youth Councillor Nina Honey said: “The amount of canisters we found whilst out and about is worrying and it shows laughing gas is a real issue for young people today.

"Through our drug awareness project we hope to highlight the risks and make young people aware of the damage they are doing.”

In addition to the clear-up, a clean-up a poster designed by Youth Councillor Annabelle Yaman called ‘Don’t Open the Gate to Gateway Drugs’ will be displayed on the rear of five Arriva buses.

They will beam this message out to the public as they drive through Buckhurst Hill, Loughton, Debden, Epping Forest, St Margaret’s, Upshire and Waltham Abbey for three months.

The Youth Councillors also surveyed more than 3,000 pupils from the Epping Forest district secondary schools, asking them for their opinions on drugs and what substances they have taken.

The findings will be released later this month.

Cllr Helen Kane, portfolio holder for leisure and community services, said: “It is important young people understand the serious health risks the substance can pose.

"Nitrous oxide can be very dangerous when misused.”

While laughing gas is not a controlled drug, it is illegal to sell to under 18s when the vendor believes it will be inhaled.

The police are limited in their ability to control its misuse, often having to resort to charges of littering when they come across laughing gas users.

Laughing gas is increasingly easy to purchase.

While sites like Amazon offer one day delivery, those particularly eager to get hold of the substance can get it delivered from small vendors stationed across Essex.