Harper’s Law: success for campaign led by PC’s widow

The Government has backed a campaign led by PC Andrew Harper’s widow demanding that those who kill emergency service workers are given mandatory life sentences.

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

Steve Thorpe, chair of Gwent Police Federation, praised Lissie’s determination to bring about positive change in the wake of heart-breaking tragedy.

He said: “Lissie Harper, despite the horrific circumstances of her husband’s death, has tirelessly campaigned to ensure that justice is served should other families find themselves in a similar situation.

“While nothing will bring Andrew back nor erase the pain of those who continue to mourn his loss, I am sure the fact that his name will live on in this new law will bring some degree of comfort.

“It is right and proper that this law is introduced to ensure those who take the lives of emergency service workers face a life sentence.”

John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation which backed the campaign, 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.”

The 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.”