Shop under fire for selling 'hippy crack' gas canisters to children as young as 14

Anoff-licence accused of selling laughing gas to children as young as 14 was found to have nearly 13,500 silver canisters of the so-called “hippy crack”, police said.

Officers searched Tanim Superstore in Limehouse after a tip-off and found the nitrous oxide canisters, with a street value of £5,620. In a report for the Tower Hamlets council licensing board, police said a teenager had been taken to hospital after inhaling from nitrous oxide canisters bought at the store, which faces losing its alcohol licence.

“The police and the council received intelligence that the premises was involved in selling nitrous oxide to people who were using it to inhale,” a licence review requested by the Met states.

“The shop has sold to children as young as 14 who had to be taken to hospital as a result of inhaling [the gas].”

It is illegal to sell or import nitrous oxide for its psychoactive effects.

An undercover officer who visited the shop in Commercial Road on June 22 said he saw “several young people” trying to buy the canisters.

According to the police report, when one woman was passed a bag by the shopkeeper she said: “Last time you didn’t give me any balloons.”

After she was stopped outside the store she told officers she had paid £10 for a box of canisters. The undercover officer then made himself known to shop staff and the store was searched, leading to the discovery of the drug.

Tanim Superstore had also been suspected of selling laughing gas in September last year, and had allegedly sold alcohol to people who were drunk, the police report said.

Uniformed officers investigating anti-social behaviour said they saw used canisters on the floor, and a group of people left the shop, asking police: “When are you going? They won’t even sell to us now.”

Police have asked the council to revoke the store’s licence to sell alcohol. A staff member at the shop said it has stopped selling laughing gas since the police raid, adding: “We’re not selling it here, because the police took it.”

The off-licence denied selling laughing gas or alcohol to under-18s and suggested that adults could have bought items for children.
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