Harper’s Law is expected to be brought in next year after a campaign by Lissie Harper, whose husband, PC Andrew Harper, was killed in the line of duty while answering a late-night call
Offenders who kill an emergency services worker while committing crime will be given mandatory life jail sentences, the Government has announced.
The law change marks the end of a two-year campaign by Lissie Harper after her husband, police officer Andrew Harper, was killed in the line of duty while answering a late-night burglary call.
Mrs Harper, 30, previously said she was “outraged” over the sentences handed to the three teenagers responsible for her husband’s death.PC
The so-called Harper’s Law is expected to make it onto the statute books via an amendment to the existing Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, meaning it would likely get Royal Assent and become law early next year.
Mrs Harper said: “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.”
PC Harper, 28, died from his injuries when he was caught in a strap attached to the back of a car and dragged down a winding country road as the trio fled the scene of a quad bike theft in Sulhamstead, Berkshire, on the night of August 15 2019.
Henry Long, 19, was sentenced to 16 years and 18-year-olds Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers were handed 13 years in custody over the manslaughter of the Thames Valley Police traffic officer.
Long, the leader of the group, admitted manslaughter, while passengers Cole and Bowers were convicted of manslaughter after a trial at the Old Bailey.
All three were cleared of murder by the jury.
The sentences prompted Mrs Harper to lobby the Government to better protect emergency services workers on the front line.
Announcing the intended law change, the Justice Secretary, 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.”
Mrs 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.”
Police officers, National Crime Agency officers, prison officers, custody officers, firefighters and paramedics are all defined as emergency services workers.
The courts must already impose life sentences for murder, although they can also be applied to other violent offences.
A life sentence lasts for the rest of a person’s life.
It means they can be sent back to prison if they commit another offence upon release from custody after serving at least the minimum sentence imposed by the courts.