'Harper's Law' bill receives Royal Assent

  • Published
Andrew HarperImage source, FamilyHandout
Image caption,
PC Andrew Harper married his childhood sweetheart, Lissie, four weeks before he was killed

A justice bill giving mandatory life sentences to the killers of emergency services workers has become law after receiving Royal Assent.

Lissie Harper campaigned for "Harper's Law" after her husband was killed in Sulhamstead, Berkshire, in August 2019.

PC Andrew Harper, a 28-year-old Thames Valley Police officer from Wallingford, Oxfordshire, was dragged to his death by a getaway car.

Three teenagers were jailed for manslaughter.

The bill for England and Wales was announced alongside three others by the government as part of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Act.

The government said the act would double the maximum penalty from 12 months to two years for those who assault police or other emergency workers, "helping to protect those who put their lives on the line to keep communities safe".

It added: "It will also bring Harpers Law onto the statute book, introducing mandatory life sentences for anyone convicted of killing an emergency worker whilst committing a crime."

The law will also apply to prison officers, fire service personnel, and frontline health workers.

Image source, Martis Media
Image caption,
Lissie Harper previously met Priti Patel as part of her campaign for Harper's Law

Home Secretary Priti Patel called the announcement a "landmark moment" that would "make sure the very worst criminals are thrown behind bars for the longest possible time".

The Home Secretary met Mrs Harper during the Harper's Law campaign.

She previously said people who sought to harm emergency workers represented the "worst of humanity" and that it was "right that future killers be stripped of the freedom to walk our streets with a life sentence".

PC Harper was answering a late-night burglary call and giving chase when he became entangled in a strap attached to a getaway vehicle.

His injuries were so catastrophic one of his colleagues could not recognise him.

Image source, Martis Media
Image caption,
Mrs Harper said her husband "would want me to be happy"

Henry Long, the 19-year-old leader of the group, admitted manslaughter and was sentenced to 16 years.

Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, both 18, were convicted of manslaughter after a trial at the Old Bailey and given 13-year sentences.

Mrs Harper has said she intends to "retire" from public life and "move forwards" once Harper's Law is passed.

"I know for a fact that Andrew would want me to be happy," she said.

Image source, Facebook
Image caption,
Henry Long, Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole were cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter

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