A community leader has warned that it is 'only a matter of time before someone dies' due to 'laughing gas' after dozens of empty silver canisters associated with the substance were found in public.

The discarded canisters were discovered in Ellerbeck wood in Workington and horrified Angela Good, manager and development officer at the nearby Moorclose Community Centre.

Angela said she feared potentially fatal consequences which could coincide with a rise in drug use.

She said: “It’s another drug in the area.

“It’s too accessible; people should have to prove what they’re being used for and should have to have a licence to get it.

“It is only a matter of time before someone dies and then there will be action taken.

“You can walk in any car park or place where people congregate and you can find the canisters everywhere.”

Cumbria police launched extra patrols at the weekend hoping to educate young people about anti-social behaviour and littering.

A police spokesman said: “We would urge the public to report all incidents and also that any litter should be reported to Allerdale Council via the MyAllerdale App.

“We share this data so that we can identify hotspot locations and prioritise our patrols across all agencies more effectively.

“We will continue to allocate patrols to the area and the child-centred policing team have been in touch with the local schools to educate young people and children about the effects of litter and anti-social behaviour.”

Nitrous oxide is a colourless gas which if inhaled can distort perceptions.

The substance has medical and commercial uses but is illegal to sell as a psychoactive substance drug.

It is also known as 'laughing gas' or 'hippy crack'.

Supply and production of the substance can result in a sentence of up to seven years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.