A campaign by Lissie Harper to hand down mandatory life sentences to the killers of emergency service workers has been backed by the government.
Named after PC Andrew Harper, the Law will introduce mandatory life sentences for anyone convicted of killing an emergency worker whilst committing a crime.
Callous thieves killed PC Harper as he responded to a 999 call made by the victim of a late-night burglary.
19-year-old Henry Long was driving a vehicle that was towing a stolen quad bike.
18-year-old Jessie Cole was steering the bike when they, along with 18-year-old Albert Bowers, came face to face with a police car that PC Harper’s colleague was driving.
PC Harper exited his police vehicle and ran after Cole, who was running towards the getaway car.
Once Cole jumped in the vehicle, career criminal Long accelerated away from the scene.
A crane strop used to tow the stolen quad bike ended up getting caught in PC Harper’s foot.
The incredibly popular and well-liked Roads Policing Unit officer was dragged by the vehicle at an average speed of over 40mph for some considerable distance.
The prosecution argued that the thieves in the car knew, or ought to have known, that PC Harper was being dragged to his death behind the vehicle.
During the trial, the prosecution detailed how the car was being driven in a manner that suggested that Long was trying to ‘dislodge’ the officer from the vehicle and that PC Harper was being swung ‘like a pendulum.’
When PC Harper did become free from the crane strop, he was left on a dark country road until his colleagues found him and tried to give him first aid.
Despite the best efforts of his colleagues and paramedics, PC Harper was pronounced deceased at the scene.
Newly-married PC Harper and his wife Lissie were due to go on their honeymoon the following week.
When the call for help was made by the victim of the burglary, PC Harper and his colleagues were heading back to their station, having completed their shift.
After leaving the officer for dead, Long, Albert and Bowers fled to a local travellers site where they were found by officers from the National Police Air Service.
During the trial, the three thieves showed no remorse and even smirked when they were sentenced.
Today’s move follows a relentless campaign by Andrew’s family, spearheaded by his widow Lissie and comes after several meetings with the Justice Secretary and Home Secretary.
Long, Cole and Bowers each received custodial sentences of between 13 and 19 years in prison for PC Harper’s manslaughter.
An appeal by the Attorney General to increase their time behind bars was rejected.
If passed, then the Law would introduce mandatory life-sentences for those who kill on-duty emergency workers while committing a crime.
The news comes as assaults on emergency workers have hit an all-time high, with 10,000 people being convicted of assaulting an emergency worker over the last 12 months.
Since our inception in 2018, Emergency Services News has catalogued the most serious assaults inflicted upon emergency workers, as outlined in our website’s ‘assaulted on duty’ section.
The recently introduced Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act has given judges the ability to jail anyone convicted under the Act for a maximum of two years.
However, a jail term of 24 months is rarely handed down to individuals convicted of assaulting an emergency worker.
Harper’s Law is expected to make it onto the statutes book as an amendment to the existing Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, meaning that it could become Law by early next year.
A spokesperson for the Government said that ‘Ministers are determined to make sure that punishments fit the severity of the crime and are determined to introduce the law as soon as possible.’
The move extends mandatory life sentences to anyone who commits the manslaughter of an emergency worker on duty – including police, prison officers, firefighters and paramedics – while carrying out another crime unless there are truly exceptional circumstances.
Courts must already impose life sentences for murder, with a whole-life order being the starting point if the victim is a police officer.
Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab said:
“We are going to pass into law mandatory life sentences for those who unlawfully kill an emergency worker in the course of their duty.
“I pay tribute to Lissie Harper’s remarkable campaign.
“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.”
Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said:
“PC Andrew Harper’s killing was shocking.
“As well as a committed police officer, he was a husband and a son.
“It is with thanks to the dedication of Lissie and his family that I am proud to be able to honour Andrew’s life by introducing Harper’s Law.
“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.”
Lissie 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.
“It’s been a long journey and a lot of hard work. I know Andrew would be proud to see Harper’s Law reach this important milestone.
“I’d like to thank the teams at the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office and Dominic Raab, Priti Patel and Robert Buckland for working with me to achieve this.
“I would also like to thank my incredible Harper’s Law team as well as the public for their unstinting support for such an important campaign.
“Those who believed that the right thing is worth doing despite the hurdles and challenges that we needed to be overcome.
“And for the families of those that this Law will provide justice for, we’re almost there.
“Your continued support has kept me pushing forward.”
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