Government backs Harper’s Law

The Government has backed a campaign led by PC Andrew Harper’s widow calling for those who kill emergency service workers to be given mandatory life sentences.

The Ministry of Justice announced today it will pass Harper’s Law in England and Wales as soon as it can.

Gareth Jones, chair of Dyfed Powys Police Federation, has welcomed the progress.

“This is good news for the police service and our emergency service colleagues,” he said, “I think we will all be sending a collective ‘thank-you’ to Lissie today. Her campaign has led to real change; change that should give us all greater protection as we go about our duties serving our communities.”

John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation which backed the campaign, has also praised Lissie for her efforts.

He said: “I hope the introduction of a mandatory life sentence for anyone convicted of killing a police officer, or emergency worker, will act as a strong deterrent and stop needless violence against my colleagues.

“I would like to pay a personal tribute to Lissie for her dedication in seeing this change in law become a reality - I am proud that we have been able to support her. Thanks also to all of those who have helped in making this happen.”

Lissie, commenting today, 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.”

Harper’s Law will introduce mandatory life sentences for anyone convicted of killing an emergency worker while committing a crime.

PC Harper was 28 when he was killed after been dragged by a getaway car in August 2019.

Teenagers Henry Long, Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers each received 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.

But 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.

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.”