Harper’s Law: PC Andrew Harper’s widow wins law change fight with killers of 999 workers facing life sentences

Lissie Harper has campaigned for a law change since her police officer husband Andrew was killed in the line of duty in 2019

A two-year campaign by a police officer’s widow to give mandatory life sentences to the killers of emergency service workers has been backed by the government.

Police officer Andrew Harper was killed in 2019 in the line of duty while answering a late-night burglary call. Three teenagers were jailed for manslaughter.

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His wife Lissie, 30, previously said she was “outraged” over the sentences handed to the three teenagers responsible for her husband’s death.

At a glance: 5 key points

  • Harper’s Law is now 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.
  • If passed, offenders who kill an emergency services worker while committing crime will be given mandatory life jail sentences.
  • Police officers, National Crime Agency officers, prison officers, custody officers, firefighters and paramedics are all defined as emergency services workers.
  • Mrs Harper said she knows her husband would be proud for the law to reach this milestone.
  • Justice Secretary Dominic Raab paid tribute to the “remarkable campaign” that Mrs Harper has run for the last two years.

What’s been said

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.”

She added: “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.”

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.”

Background

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.

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