Emergency workers will receive greater protection from violent criminals after the Government confirmed ‘Harper’s Law’ would be added to the statute book.
Keighley and Ilkley’s MP Robbie Moore has been campaigning for a change to the law since PC Andrew Harper – who the law is named after – was killed in the line of duty in 2019. The new act will introduce mandatory life sentences for anyone convicted of killing an emergency service worker whilst committing a crime.
Mr. Moore met with PC Harper’s widow, Lissie, to back the campaign for mandatory life sentences for emergency services which has now been adopted by the government.
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.
Henry Long, Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers each received custodial 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.
Robbie Moore MP said “PC Andrew Harper’s killing shocked us all, and those who harm our emergency service workers deserve to face the full force of the law.
I was pleased to meet with Lissie to back her calls and campaign for this change. She has run an unwavering campaign. In the House of Commons, I’ll be pushing to ensure this law is introduced as soon as possible so that punishment fits the severity of the crime.”
Lissie Harper, widow of PC 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.
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.
I’d like to thank the teams at the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office and Dominic Raab, Priti Patel and Robert Buckland for working with me to achieve this.
I would also like to thank my incredible Harper’s Law team as well as the public for their unstinting support for such an important campaign. Those who believed that the right thing is worth doing despite the hurdles and challenges that we needed to be overcome.
And for the families of those that this Law will provide justice for, we’re almost there. Your continued support has kept me pushing forward.”
Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, 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.”