Hemel Hempstead MP welcomes law change which means killers of emergency service workers will face life in prison

Sir Mike Penning welcomes Harper’s Law as PC’s widow wins fight for law change

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 9:54 am

The MP for Hemel Hempstead has welcomed news that the Government has agreed to back Harper’s Law, named in memory of PC Andrew Harper who was killed in the line of duty in 2019.

This new law means there will be a mandatory life sentence for anyone who kills an emergency worker in the course of their duty.

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.

Lissie and Sir Mike Penning

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.

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

Lissie 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."

The Ministry of Justice aims to pass Harper’s Law in England and Wales “as soon as possible”.

Former Policing Minister Sir Mike Penning who has been backing PC Harper’s widow, Lissie, in her campaign.

He said: “This new law will protect emergency service heroes who run towards danger. Criminals will know that if they assault and kill an emergency worker, they will get life in prison.”

“Most members of the public assume that this was already the law and would expect that those who are here to protect us to have the full protection of the law and that anyone who attacks them would face severe punishments.

“But this isn’t the case. Andrew’s killers were found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to only 13 years.

“Harper’s Law will do what everyone would expect, provide an appropriate deterrent and a suitable punishment for these criminals.

“I cannot praise Lissie highly enough for her incredible courage and determination in achieving this legacy for Andrew.

"Sadly, nothing can bring Andrew back, but what better tribute could there be than to help protect others and ensure there will be justice for Andrew’s colleagues across the emergency services, should the worst happen again.”

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, David Lloyd, has also backed plans to give emergency workers greater protection from violent criminals.

He said: “We need to protect our protectors. This is excellent news that people who kill police officers, and other emergency workers, will now face greater penalties.

"It may save a live if it makes offenders stop and think about their actions.

“Police officers do an extremely difficult and demanding job, and we should all be thankful.

"Any law which reduces the chance of them being attacked and seriously injured or killed has my full backing.”

What is the new law and has it been passed?

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.

The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 introduced a statutory aggravating factor which means judges must also consider tougher sentences for offences such as manslaughter, GBH or sexual assault – if the victim was an emergency worker (this has since been consolidated into the Sentencing Code and can be found in s67 of the Sentencing Act 2020).

Three teens jailed for PC Harper’s death

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.