HARTLEPOOL MP Iain Wright has welcomed tougher new sentences for drug criminals after witnessing the “absolute misery” they cause to the town.
People who are behind large-scale drug producing operations are likely to be handed longer jail terms under the new guidelines that come into force next month.
Street dealers who have a hands-on role in peddling heroin and cocaine for profit can also expect to go to jail for at least four and a half years.
But small-time dealers caught with up to 6kg of cannabis, 20 ecstasy tablets, or five grams of heroin or cocaine could get community sentences.
Dealers under 18 will also be dealt with more harshly.
Mr Wright said he takes a hard line view on drug offending.
He said: “I see in Hartlepool the impact that drug use and supply can cause.
“Because drugs cause absolute misery, I think the state and judicial system needs to take a hard line on those who have been supplying drugs.
“Because of that, I welcome the harsher sentences when it comes to large-scale supply and production of drugs.
“We also need to ensure the police are relentless in trying to cut off supply as much as possible.”
Mr Wright added the authorities needed to “keep their eye on the ball” when it came to lower-level dealing to stop it becoming more serious.
But he strenuously disagrees with plans to reduce sentences for drug mules.
The Sentencing Guidelines Council says carriers are often exploited and vulnerable.
But Mr Wright said: “In my view, anybody who is bringing drugs into this country and acting as a courier needs to be dealt with severely because they are importing misery on to the streets of Hartlepool.”
The new definitive guideline on drug offences bring sentencing guidance for judges and magistrates together for the first time and come into effect from February 27.
Within the last year, a 13-strong drug dealing gang were jailed for more than 105 years after dealing in millions of pounds worth of cocaine from Hartlepool marina.
In December, three Vietnamese immigrants were jailed for nine years for setting up a £500,000 cannabis farm on the outskirts of Hartlepool.
Police uncovered more than 1,000 cannabis plants in a bungalow near Elwick last July.
Scores of other dealers and cannabis growers have also appeared in court and received a range of jail and suspended prison sentences.