06 JUL 2018

Victory in our campaign for Robert's Law

People often tell me that the war on drugs is lost. I disagree. Because we cannot stand by while drugs cause the deaths of young people whose lives lie ahead of them. Young people like Robert Fraser of Deal who was just 18 when he was tragically killed by the dangerous new drug fentanyl.

Of course it's often difficult to catch the dealers and the suppliers. Yet with a rising drugs problem, we should redouble our efforts and seek tougher punishments for serious drugs crimes.

That is exactly what Robert's mother Michelle Fraser set out to do. Distraught at the loss of her 18-year-old son, she decided to campaign for a change in the law - Robert's Law - to seek tougher punishments for people who supply fentanyl.

Robert was killed by fentanyl in 2016. Police believe a dealer gave it to Robert as a "freebie". Her son was no addict. He had no idea that what he was taking was effectively poison.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 times stronger than heroin. It has been linked to the deaths of 120 people in the UK over the past 18 months. In the US, traces are found in a third of all overdoses. 60,000 people have died.

So since that terrible day Michelle has been fighting to raise awareness of this deadly drug. Last year she came to see me at one of my surgeries to ask for my help. We decided to campaign together for Robert's Law.

After just a few months, the Crown Prosecution Service agreed to change its drug offences guidance to include fentanyl. Then the Sentencing Council launched a review on their sentencing guidelines. I met with the Justice Minister Rory Stewart to press the case further – and we secured a debate in Parliament on fentanyl.

Then last week we received incredible news. The Sentencing Council announced new guidance putting synthetic opioids in the most serious category. During our debate last Tuesday, the Justice Minister said: "This now moves the expert witness to state that fentanyl will be in the top category of Class A drugs for prosecution. This is going to be absolutely vital in deterring people from supplying and importing these drugs."

He also said this change would not have happened so quickly were it not for our campaign. Michelle's passion and drive really has made people stand up and take notice. She has done her son proud.

I was so pleased that Michelle and Robert's sister Amy were able to come to the Westminster debate and see what an incredible difference they have made. This campaign is so important – not just for Michelle, but for every parent. By bringing in Robert's Law we will take the battle to the drug dealers and help save lives.


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Charlie Elphicke

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