Offenders who kill emergency services workers to be given mandatory life sentences

Harper’s Law would make late police officer proud, says campaigning wife

Liam James
Wednesday 24 November 2021 01:49
<p>PC Andrew Harper died after attempting to apprehend youths who had stolen a quad bike</p>

PC Andrew Harper died after attempting to apprehend youths who had stolen a quad bike

Mandatory life sentences will be introduced for offenders who cause the death of emergency services workers while committing a crime, the government has announced.

The law change is a triumph for Lissie Harper, who began campaigning after the death of her husband PC Andrew Harper in the line of duty.

Ms Harper has said the sentences given to the three teenagers responsible for her husband’s death were “despicable”.

PC Harper, 28, died after he was caught in a strap attached to the back of a car driven by the teens and dragged for a mile down a country road as they fled the scene of a quad bike theft on the night of 15 August 2019.

Henry Long, 19, was sentenced to 16 years, and 18-year-olds Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers got 13 years, for manslaughter. They were all cleared of murder by the jury.

The sentences prompted Ms Harper to lobby the government to better protect emergency services workers on the front line.

Her campaign was supported by the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank-and-file officers.

She said her late husband would be proud of the law change, which has been called Harper’s Law.

Ms Harper said: “Emergency services workers require extra protection. I know all too well how they are put at risk and into the depths of danger on a regular basis on behalf of society. That protection is what Harper’s Law will provide and I am delighted that it will soon become a reality.”

The couple had been married a month when Andrew died

The law is expected to be added to the existing Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, meaning it is likely to get Royal Assent and become law early next year.

Announcing the change, Dominic Raab, the justice secretary, said: “This government is on the side of victims and their families and we want our emergency services to know that we’ll always have their back.”

He added: “I pay tribute to Lissie Harper’s remarkable campaign.”

Priti Patel, the home secretary, said she was shocked by PC Harper’s killing and thanked Ms Harper for her “dedication”.

“Those who seek to harm our emergency service workers represent the very worst of humanity and it is right that future killers be stripped of the freedom to walk our streets with a life sentence,” she said.

Police officers, National Crime Agency officers, prison guards, custody officers, firefighters and paramedics are all defined as emergency services workers.

The courts are already bound to impose life sentences for murder, and can also give them for violent offences.

Additional reporting by PA

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