Borders MP backing calls for tougher laws to tackle killer drug

Fentanyl victim Robert Fraser, 18, of Kent.
Fentanyl victim Robert Fraser, 18, of Kent.

Borders MP John Lamont is backing calls for tougher sentences for supplying fentanyl, a drug 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.

Police and health chiefs in the region have already issued warnings about the risks posed by fentanyl after several drug-users were admitted to hospital in December last year.

A debate in the House of Commons last week called for a law named after Robert Fraser, a Kent 18-year-old killed in 2016 by a fentanyl overdose, to be introduced.

Fentanyl killed 20,000 people in the US last year, and it is feared to be becoming a growing problem in the UK too.

Since Robert’s death, there have been 100 further fatalities linked to the opioid painkiller, and it is believed to be available increasingly widely.

Campaigners including Robert’s mother, Michelle Fraser, are now calling for the law to reflect the danger of the drug and for sentences for supplying it to be made tougher.

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP Mr Lamont said: “We’re already seeing this dangerous drug in the Borders, and, while no fatalities have occurred, the police are clearly concerned about its growing use.

“This campaign for a Robert’s law has been driven by a mother who just wants to stop other parents having to go through the loss of a child.

“While Fentanyl is classified as class A, it is significantly more dangerous than many other class-A drugs.

“Dealers are attracted to this drug because it is cheap and potent and can be easily sent in small packages.

“We need to take action to stop this deadly substance becoming more prevalent and send a message that dealing it will simply not be tolerated.”

The Crown Prosecution Service has already issued guidance calling for tougher sentences for those caught spplying fentanyl, and Ms Fraser has welcomed that breakthrough.

It advises prosecutors to highlight the fact that as little as two micrograms can be lethal, as proved by the 58 fentanyl-related deaths in England and Wales in 2016, nearly three times the figure four years earlier.

Fentanyl’s relative potency compared with heroin should also be spelled out, it advises.

Ms Fraser said: “Fentanyl isn’t just a class-A drug – fentanyl is a killer, and now when looking at the guidelines on prosecuting people, the potency of the drug involved has to be taken into consideration. It is an amazing step forward.”