People Who Kill Emergency Service Workers Will Now Face Life In Prison
Offenders who kill emergency service workers in the line of duty will now face mandatory life sentences for their crimes, following a two-year campaign by the widow of PC Andrew Harper.
‘Harper’s law’ – named after PC Harper, who was killed in 2019 while responding to a burglary call – will be added to policing and criminal justice reform legislation and could take effect as early as next year.
Harper’s wife, Lissie, began lobbying for the change after being ‘outraged’ at the sentences handed down to the three teenagers responsible for her husband’s death.
Henry Long, 19, Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, were convicted of manslaughter but cleared of murder charges, with Long sentenced to 16 years and Cole and Bowers 13 years in prison. PC Harper died from his injuries after he got stuck in a rope strap attached to the back of a vehicle and was subsequently dragged down a country road as the teens fled the scene.
The law change, which was announced by justice secretary Dominic Raab today, November 24, aims to better protect emergency service workers, and will apply to police officers, paramedics and firefighters, as well as National Crime Agency officers, prison officers and custody officers.
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.
Lissie said she was ‘delighted’ that the new law would provide ‘extra protection’ for workers who ‘are put at risk and into the depths of danger,’ adding that her late husband ‘would be proud to see Harper’s Law reach this important milestone.’
Home secretary Priti Patel also paid tribute to PC Harper and his wife, saying ‘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.’
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