Kent Police's drugs chief has backed my campaign for "Robert's Law" – which would toughen legislation concerning super-strength synthetic opioids.
I am working with the mum of a Deal teenager who died in November 2016 after being given fentanyl, a substance 50 times stronger than heroin. Robert Fraser, 18, was discovered unresponsive in his bedroom two days after a dealer gave him the drug, saying it was similar to ecstasy. I wrote to Kent Police asking for tougher sentencing for those who deal the deadly drug.
This week Detective Chief Superintendent Tom Richards, Kent Police's head of substance misuse, told me: "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."
Fentanyl killed 20,000 people in the US last year — up from just 3,000 three years before. Deaths in the UK have also increased in recent months. Robert's mum Michelle and I want to toughen laws so the American trend is not repeated here. "Robert's Law" would force police to prioritise cases involving fentanyl, and courts to impose harsher sentences on those caught supplying the drug.
Michelle is an incredibly brave woman. Robert had his whole life ahead of him, but he died from a powerful drug he did not know he was taking. Reports of Fentanyl on our streets are increasing. We need to send a strong message to dealers. You will be punished for the misery you inflict. Robert's story will frighten every parent out there. We have to tackle this head on, right now, before it gets out of control.
I have contacted several agencies to establish current positions on fentanyl, including the Crown Prosecution Service, the National Crime Agency, the National Police Chiefs Council, the Justice Secretary, the Home Secretary, and NHS England. I then plans to table a debate in the House of Commons, before going back to relevant ministers with proposals.