In June 2018, new guidance was issued putting deadly opioid fentanyl in the most serious category of Class A drugs for prosecution - a huge victory in the campaign for Robert's Law. This is the story so far...
Robert Fraser was killed by a new deadly drug called fentanyl in 2016. He was just 18 years old. His mum Michelle, distraught at the loss of her son, decided to campaign for a change in the 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.
Since that terrible day Michelle has been fighting to raise awareness of this deadly drug. In September 2017, she came to see Charlie at one of his surgeries to ask for his help. They decided to campaign together for Robert's Law.
Charlie got in touch with Kent Police, and the force's drugs chief backed the campaign. Detective Chief Superintendent Tom Richards, Kent Police's head of substance misuse, told Charlie: "I am sure that when the Misuse of Drugs Act was written, they did not envisage having drugs that were 100/1000s times more potent than heroin.
"In essence, unless massively diluted, fentanyl acts like a poison and so consideration should be given to find a better way of regulating it."
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.
Charlie also met with the Justice Minister Rory Stewart to press the case further – and he secured a debate in Parliament on fentanyl.
Victory for Robert's Law
Then in June 2018, Charlie received incredible news. The Sentencing Council announced new guidance putting synthetic opioids in the most serious category.
During Charlie's Westminster Hall debate on June 26th, 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."
Mr Stewart added: "It's no coincidence that it was yesterday that the Sentencing Council published this guideline, with the debate brought by the Member for Dover and Deal today.
"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. It's going to be vital in deterring people from supplying and importing these drugs.
"I really want to pay tribute to the Honourable Member for Dover and Deal. His leadership and his championing has led to two important changes which I can honestly say would not have happened as rapidly had it not been for his work."
After the debate, Michelle said: "It's brilliant that Robert's Law is being talked about in Westminster and that MPs are listening to us.
"The fact that we've got new guidance that dealing fentanyl should be in the most serious category means we have made a real difference.
"This campaign is so important – not just for me, but for every parent. By bringing in Robert's Law we will save lives. That will be my boy's legacy."
Charlie 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, Charlie and Michelle will take the battle to the drug dealers and help save lives.