THERE is still a 'massive' increase in a 'pocket money' drug for children that officers are keen to reduce.

Sgt Neil Hughes of the South Flintshire policing team said they are constantly finding empty gas canisters on the local streets and playing fields where it has been evident youths are inhaling Nitrous Oxide.

Despite the many reports and warnings, the officer said nothing seems to be making a difference and the Leader has recently reported how more than 50 cans were found in Mynydd Isa.

He added: "You can buy them in bulk quite easily, a dozen for five pounds, so they are pretty much a pocket money drug for children.

"I've seen a massive increase in the last 12 months, it's very easy on social media and the internet to see videos how to use it and the effects it has. It's really easy to do and that's why I think it's become so popular, you basically have a how-to guide and it's really cheap.

"There's a massive increase and it's very worrying."

The Sgt purchased the items on the internet himself for little money and they arrived within a couple of days, he said he wanted to show people how easily it could be done and what the legal use is for compared to what they are actually being used for.

The Leader spoke to Neil who showed just how simple it is to inhale the gas and he said people are not realising the real dangers.

He said: "The biggest danger is when people do pass out they can be out for a long period of time. It's very worrying.

"No drug is entirely safe and just because it's classed as an anonymous drug and seems quite harmless it's not. It can have lasting effects on children, can cause brain damage in certain cases where parts of the brain dies and obviously there are risks when children pass out.

"It's not a drug parents would see effects of when children return home, unlike cannabis and alcohol, because it doesn't smell so can be difficult for parents to spot it.

"This is a public safety and health issue really, it's mainly used by children and along with other drugs we want to reduce the risk to harm."

Legally, police have a power to seize and destroy if the canisters are found on an individual, however, due to recent legislation, they do not have the power to prosecute.

Sgt Hughes is urging parents to educate their children on the dangers of the drug, which include, brain damage and even death, and help police in reducing the number of people wanting to take it.

Parents with concerns can contact Flintshire Sorted, who specialise in helping youths with drugs and alcohol related problems and offers advice on a one-to-one basis.