Lissie Harper, the widow of hero PC Andrew Harper, has said that she feels ‘encouraged, hopeful and more determined than ever’ that ‘Harper’s Law’ will make it onto the statute books after meeting with Home Secretary Priti Patel to discuss the proposals.
PC Harper was killed by three thieves last years after he was dragged behind a car for 1.4 miles at an average speed of 42.5 mph.
Henry Long, Albert Bowers and Jesse Cole were all convicted of causing his death with Long – who was driving the car – being sentenced to 16 years behind bars.
However, after various discounts were applied to their sentences, the three could be out of prison in under ten years.
During her meeting with Ms Patel and Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, Lissie highlighted the “shocking and substandard” sentences which are handed out to criminals who kill emergency workers.
Lissie said that the 45-minute meeting was “positive and very constructive”.
Lissie had been married to PC Andrew Harper for little over four weeks when he was killed by the ‘career criminals’ after they tried to escape from the scene of a burglary with a stolen quad bike.
PC Harper and his colleague PC Shaw intercepted the three armed thieves on a country road as they were towing the stolen quad bike that was worth over £10,000.
Lissie has been campaigning for a law that would see anyone who is found guilty of killing an emergency worker to be jailed for life with mandatory minimum terms being applied to their sentences.
According to Lissie, Government civil servants will now work with the Harper’s Law team on the details of the plans which could see the law make it onto the statute books within the next few years.
Speaking after the meeting Lissie said:
“I wanted to sit down with the Home Secretary and describe to her how it feels to look the people responsible for my husband’s death in the eye, knowing that they show no remorse for their actions and knowing that they will be released into the world once more to return to their lives of crime.
“I told Ms Patel and Mr Buckland in no uncertain terms my widely held view that the justice system is broken. And that we need Harper’s Law to help fix it. The least we can expect from our justice system is that it ensures criminals who kill those emergency services workers protecting us are given appropriate and substantial prison sentences.
“Myself – and I am humbled to say hundreds of thousands of members of the British public – think the current situation is frankly not good enough. And the Home Secretary, the Justice Secretary and their fellow MPs are in a position to do something about it.
“They spoke and listened, and I am pleased to say they promised to work with us and support us in achieving our goal of providing justice to families of emergency services workers and stiffer and more appropriate sentences for those who take their lives.
“We know this won’t happen overnight and now wait for the next steps.
“We need change. I will not allow this to be kicked into the long grass. We need to properly protect our protectors. And I promise I won’t be shying away from the limelight to keep the pressure on those in power to make this happen.”
Over 650k people have now signed an online petition calling for Harper’s Law.
“I know that if he could, Andrew would be right by my side fighting for Harper’s Law with me… he would want me to get this law passed for all who deserve it.
“Emergency services workers require extra protection… They are put at risk and into the depths of danger on a regular basis on behalf of society therefore it is only right that there is a specific law there to protect them.
“Harper’s Law will mean a person found guilty of killing a police officer, firefighter, nurse, doctor, paramedic or prison officer as a direct result of a crime they have committed then they would be jailed for life.
“This means that a life sentence would be imposed, asking for a minimum term in prison. We are delighted to have started this conversation with the policymakers in the Government, and we look forward to continuing that.
“We need an appropriate punishment for heinous crimes.
“But just as vitally we would hope beyond hope that Harper’s Law may act as a deterrent in the future – thus resulting in fewer incidences of death among emergency services workers due to crimes being committed as those responsible will finally face serious consequences.
“Being here at the Home Office and meeting with key members of the Government is a great accomplishment for the campaign. But this is not the end of the road – this is the start of the journey to achieving Harper’s Law. I will keep going. I will continue to channel my grief to campaign for Harper’s Law.
“The people of Britain are tired of witnessing the leniency of our courts against the evil in our society. The support that we continue to receive from hundreds of thousands of people just highlights the disapproval and outrage over these injustices we all are made to accept.
“Let’s get this changed. This would be a fitting legacy to Andrew.”
The sentences which were handed down to Long (16 years in prison), Cole & Bowers (13 years respectively) are to be reviewed by the Court of Appeal.
Having reviewed the sentences, the Attorney General referred them to the Court under the Unduly Lenient Sentencing Scheme.
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