CRIMINAL justice workers have stepped up their campaign to re-categorise a legal high and stop young people from falling into addictions that "spiral out of control".

Nitrous Oxide (N2O), which is also known as ‘laughing gas’ and 'nitty', is a gas commonly used in the medical and catering industry but is increasingly being used as a recreational drug.

Sofia Buncy, national co-ordinator at the Khidmat Centre and lead on the Muslim Women in Prison Project, and Sharat Hussain, a youth worker at The Mary Magdalene Project, have called on the Government to review its use across the UK after finding more and more canisters littered on the streets.

The campaigners want urgent action and have now launched a mapping exercise which they later hope to show to West Yorkshire Police officers and Police and Crime Commisioner (PCC) Mark Burns-Williamson.

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Ms Buncy told the Telegraph & Argus: "As practised youth workers the last thing we want to see young people ruin their futures because of addictions. This campaign is not about criminalising young people. It's about protecting them and giving them a fair shot at their futures where many may already be living in disadvantaged situations.

"From what we can tell, young people are engaging in nitrous oxide either as a fun fad or more dangerously being exploited by peers or elders to enter into addictive behaviours. We know (that) can easily spiral out of control until that ‘high’ has to be replaced by another’.

"Mapping where the issue around misuse of Nitrous Oxide is prevalent will help us as a city to monitor the spread and prevalence of the issue, target resources and interventions and to work with local communities to develop effective preventative programmes."

Police forces across the UK have expressed fears that the drug - often called 'hippie crack' - is becoming more prevalent because it's cheap, accessible and young people are bored.

Read more: Why campaigners want this legal high to be re-categorised

Though it is now illegal to supply N20 under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016, there are no checks and it can be bought in bulk.

The PCC for West Yorkshire said: “Education must continue to play a central role in addressing the root causes associated with nitrous oxide abuse and the potentially harmful effects on young people.

“Having been made aware of localised issues in Bradford and beyond, I have personally responded to some of these community concerns, looking at how we can work with West Yorkshire Police and our partners to address this.

“By using every opportunity to make clear the dangers and the impact it can have on people’s lives, we can start to change behaviours and address the problem at its core.

“This cannot be achieved, however, through one single agency. It has to be a collective effort that starts to confront this trend culturally to highlight the harms involved.

“Criminalising lots of young people is also not the answer and in many cases can only contribute to the problem, impacting on future negative lifestyles and opportunities.

“This is why we have to also look at this from a wider criminal justice and safeguarding perspective, engaging and preventing at the first opportunity.

“My office has previously been successful in securing funding under the Early Intervention Youth Fund that helps to do just that.

“We also have to look at this from the supply perspective, understanding just how we can prevent these substances reaching our young people in the first instance working with responsible suppliers and retailers.”