Published: 00:01, 23 February 2018
The mother of a teenager killed by a powerful new drug has welcomed the "first step" taken on the road to a so-called Robert’s Law.
The Sentencing Council says a review will begin soon following a campaign by Michelle Fraser for tougher punishments for cases involving the drug fentanyl.
Her son Robert, 18, of St Francis Close, Deal, had taken an unintentional overdose of the synthetic opioid in 2016, an inquest had concluded.
Mrs Fraser said: “The fact that we got such a quick and positive response gives me hope we can get closer to Robert’s Law and save lives.
"That means my son mattered. That can be my boy’s legacy.”
Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke backed the cause and wrote to the Sentencing Council.
Chairman Lord Justice Treacy, copied in his letter to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, so she can consider giving guidance to prosecutors in the meantime.
Lord Justice Treacy wrote: “The Sentencing Council will shortly commence a review of the Drug Offences guideline, and agree that the guideline needs to address a number of new drugs and drug offending behaviour which has emerged recently.
“The issue of fentanyl and the sentencing of cases involving it will be carefully considered during discussions.
"I anticipate that the scope of the review will be to consider the kinds of drugs not specifically mentioned.
“I will ensure your comments regarding issues relating to assessing the seriousness of offences involving fentanyl are fully considered.”
Mr Elphicke said this was the “first and significant step” towards Robert’s Law.
Fentanyl killed 20,000 people in the US last year, up from 3,000 three years before. Deaths in the UK have also increased in recent months.