Last week I had a valuable meeting with Home Secretary Priti Patel and Robert Buckland QC, Secretary for State for Justice and Lord Chancellor.
Having met previously with Priti Patel, it was lovely to continue with the genuine conversation that flows easily between us. Priti Patel, along with Robert Buckland and myself, are all parents.
Much discussion was had about the reality of the situation we find ourselves in and what the last 13 months have dealt us. There is much agreement in the facts that enough is enough, changes are required.
Our blue light officers, being sons, daughters, husbands, wives, are all human beings – something many in society seem to forget. Our loved ones, whilst doing their jobs, are expected to turn towards violence and disruptions to protect while others naturally turn from it.
The tragedy for families of those lost in this way is in serving painful sentences nobody could ever imagine, forever.
Sadly, there are inevitably going to be other families following in our path of losing their loved ones, and we have seen an unacceptable increase in injuries as the years go by. Assaults on our blue light officers are ever more common, and the penalties need to be proportional.
We need to see an end to just getting suspended sentences and very low custodial sentences for attacking officers. The forces need this going forward to make their profession feel worthwhile and valued. New recruits, who are looking at their options and wondering if this is the career for them, they need to feel protected and valued.
This is what our efforts are raising as a subject. These were our discussions. We have been broken as a family, losing Andrew in the way we have. Seeing the justice system is currently unable to provide the sentences that are deserving of the crime, devastates my every waking and sleeping moment.
Andrew was a valuable, trusted, effective and dedicated officer and a beautiful soul, truly a funny, caring, life-loving person. We desperately want to feel we are doing something he would truly believe in. Moreover, of this, I am sure he would be.
You all by now realise that there are two campaigns running for essentially the same aim. Let us hope we can achieve it however it happens. My belief is that Andrew would want us to be happy and have more harmony but that sadly no longer seems likely.
However, I am determined my life will go forward with positivity and strength from Andrew, my amazing and dearly missed and much loved son.
Our meeting at the Home Office covered much of the obvious of our cause – we know Andrew died because he was trying to stop a crime, No question of that.
If an officer dies because you are committing a crime, you are responsible for his death. Proportionately 20 years should be the minimum sentence with no early release. Through our discussions, there was much interest in the issue of early pleas.
We showed that there is a huge difference in an early plea due to conscience, or admittance because you are truly ashamed and appalled by your actions, and that as we saw in Andrews case – early plea due to being told there is no way out of it due to proof you cannot deny. That is just playing the system.
I honestly believe there will be progress made in this situation. We spoke about closing this loophole, as that is what it is, a method loophole.
I also feel strongly about the age reductions. I will never understand how you can receive a reduction for not being 21 when you can do everything at 18, short of adoption. Importantly, you can serve on a jury. That makes no sense and says it all to me. I am hopeful that after talking this through, there will be progress made in this regard.
I had other conversations, which we will keep between ourselves at this time as it is the right thing, but which gave me hope to move forward in the near future.
All of my thanks go to the Home Secretary and to Lord Chancellor for the time given and their respect for us, enabling us to really open up about the situation we find ourselves in and we will be speaking with them again in the future for update meetings and further talks. I have a few ideas, which I think would be worth discussing and look forward to that when the time is right.
As always, I thank you all from the heart for your support and care with love from our family to yours – I will be keeping a low media profile for the foreseeable future, working in the background for a while as it feels I have lots to do to heal and now this is in the hands of the lawmakers.