PC Andrew Harper: Widow warns criminals 'we won't stand for this' amid law change for killing emergency service workers

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The widow of PC Andrew Harper has said a law change which would see mandatory life sentences for people who kill emergency service workers will send a message to criminals that "we won't stand for this".

Lissie Harper and the police officer's family were prompted to act when 28-year-old PC Harper was killed while responding to a call about a stolen quad bike in Berkshire on 15 August 2019.

The government has said it will introduce "Harper's Law" as soon as possible, while Mrs Harper has been praised for her campaign by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab during a series of meetings in Westminster.

Mrs Harper said: "It started with a sense of (a) feeling of injustice, feeling of anger, and this isn't right and something needs to change.

"Throughout this process I've received an immense amount of support from the public and, you know, those close to me, but also strangers.

"To reach this point with Harper's Law, I'm really proud of all the work that we've done.

"I think it sends a message to those who lead those sorts of lives - who commit crimes, who have no remorse for taking innocent people's lives away - and it will tell them that we won't stand for this."

She added: "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."

PC Harper was caught up in a rope Henry Long and his two passengers Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers had been using to tow the bike and dragged to his death when they tried to drive away from police.

Long, 19, was jailed for 16 years and his 18-year-old passengers were each jailed for 13 years in July, over the death of the young traffic officer.

Long, who was described by prosecutors as the leader of the group, admitted PC Harper's manslaughter.

Cole and Bowers were found guilty of manslaughter by a jury at the Old Bailey.

All three were cleared of PC Harper's murder by the same jury which deliberated for more than 12 hours.

An appeal by the Attorney General to increase their time behind bars was rejected.

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. The time spent in prison under a mandatory life sentence is decided by a judge.

Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister, Dominic Raab, thanked Mrs Harper for her campaign during a meeting in his Westminster office.

He told her: "You've got a huge amount of support in the country, in the House of Commons, and all because of the tenacity you've shown.

"I think you've shone a light on something which is really important, so I'm just really pleased we can support you and get this done."

Turning to a Police Federation representative sat nearby, Mrs Harper said: "We're both really happy, aren't we, to reach this point. It's been a long hard journey.

"We're just relieved I think, aren't we, it's something we knew we would get to this point because we're just very determined, but I think just the amount of support that people are showing as well just proves how much everyone wants it."

PC Harper's mum, Debbie Adlam, said she was "relieved" the law change has received support "in honour of Andrew, and all emergency workers who have lost their lives".

She added: "Our emergency workers need and deserve better protection and deterrents when facing the worst situations.

"They risk their safety on a daily basis. This does not mean their lives are worth more - but their risk to life, limb and mind is massively increased, as we too painfully know."

Mr Raab had earlier 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."

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