THE historic introduction of Harper’s Law will help drive down police assaults across the board, Hampshire Police Federation has said.
Named after the Thames Valley Police officer PC Andrew Harper, who was killed in the line of duty in 2019, the law will introduce mandatory life sentences for anyone convicted of killing an emergency worker whilst committing a crime.
The change to the law was announced last month and will be made soon as possible, the Government has said, after the tireless campaigning by Lissie Harper, Andrew’s widow.
Hampshire Police Federation said: “Ultimately, emergency service workers being killed is very rare, but hopefully this will have a knock-on effect on all the other assaults and the sentencing.
“Sentencing given out by the courts for the multitude of assaults and range of injuries is generally very poor at the moment.”
Garry Smith, Federation Secretary, added: “I do hope that some of the criminals have seen this and thought, ‘Actually, do you know what, perhaps this has got a little bit real now’.
“I just do hope that Harper’s Law does send out that signal. It is positive that those in a position of power have heard our screaming and shouting about this for a number of months and years. We are hopeful that this is just the start of even more support towards policing and awareness of the assaults on police officers and the harm that officers face.”
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.
Lissie 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.”