Laughing gas canister found

A CANISTER of laughing gas was found at the side of the A7 yesterday, almost two weeks after thieves attempted to steal stocks of the anaesthetic from two Borders hospitals.

The discovery was made at 11.15am near Ashkirk and firefighters attended to ensure the container was not at risk of exploding.

The two-foot-high blue cylinder was marked with the words Hawick Community Hospital, whose dental department was targeted by thieves trying to steal a laughing gas container in the early hours of October 13.

On the same day, a number of canisters from Borders General Hospital’s pharmacy department were taken.

A police spokesman said: “We will be making further inquiries to establish if this canister is one of those previously stolen.”

Laughing gas thefts have increased across Scotland in recent weeks, with fears that it is being used to power boy racers’ cars or used as a recreational drug or that the canisters are sold as scrap metal.

NHS Borders’ chief executive Calum Campbell last week warned that anyone taking the stolen gas, which is used for medical purposes, could cause serious damage to their health.

He said improved security systems would be installed around the health board’s nitrous oxide stocks.

Mr Campbell also suggested that increased CCTV coverage may be brought in at NHS Borders properties which house the chemical.