- Mandatory life sentence for those who kill an emergency worker while on duty
- Change the law as soon as possible
- Follow the tireless campaign of the Andrew Harpers PC family
Named after 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 while committing a crime.
Today’s move follows a relentless campaign by the Andrews family, including his widow Lissie and the Police Federation, and comes after a series of meetings with the Secretary of Justice and the Secretary of the Interior.
Henry Long, Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers each received prison sentences of 13 to 19 years in prison for the murder of PC Harpers. The Attorney General’s appeal to increase their time behind bars was rejected.
Ministers are determined to ensure that the sentences match the severity of the crime and are determined to enact the law as soon as possible.
The measure extends mandatory life sentences to anyone who commits the murder of an on-duty emergency worker, including police, prison officers, firefighters and paramedics, while committing another crime, unless there are truly exceptional circumstances. Courts should now impose life sentences for murder, with a life sentence that is the starting point if the victim is a police officer.
Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Dominic Raab said:
We will pass into law mandatory life sentences for those who illegally kill an emergency worker in the line of duty. I pay tribute to Lissie Harpers’ extraordinary campaign.
This government is on the side of the victims and their families and we want our emergency services to know that they are always on the right track.
The Secretary of the Interior, Priti Patel, said:
The murder of PC Andrew Harpers was shocking. As well as a dedicated police officer, he was a man and a boy. Thanks to the dedication of Lissie and his family I am proud to be able to honor Andrews life by introducing Harpers Law.
Those who seek to harm our emergency service personnel represent the worst of humanity, and it is right that future murderers be deprived of the freedom to walk our streets with a life sentence.
Lissie Harper said:
Emergency service personnel require additional protection. I know very well how they are put at risk and in depth of risk regularly on behalf of society. This protection is what Harpers Law will provide and I am glad it will soon become a reality.
It has been a long journey and a lot of hard work. I know Andrew would be proud to see Harpers Law reach this milestone.
I would like to thank the teams in the Ministry of Justice and Home Office and Dominic Raab, Priti Patel and Robert Buckland who worked with me to achieve this.
I would also like to thank my incredible Harpers Law team as well as the public for their unstinting support for such an important campaign. Those who believed that the right thing was worth doing despite the obstacles and challenges we needed to overcome.
And for the families of those whom this law will deliver justice, they were almost there. Your continued support has kept me moving forward.
The move follows the government’s recent move to protect police, prison officers, firefighters and paramedics and to ensure that those seeking to harm them feel the full force of the law. This includes plans to double the maximum sentence for assaulting them to two years in prison.
Notes to editors
- Henry Long was given a 19-year extended sentence (EDS). This consists of 16 years of detention (unless his licensed release is ordered by the Parole Board in point two thirds) and an additional three years of extended license to bring him to a total of 19 years. Long could be remanded in custody at any time he is on probation whether he would commit the offense again or violate the terms of the license.
The changes will mean that those who kill an emergency worker while committing an offense will face a mandatory life sentence. The emergency worker does not need to be aware that that violation has occurred or respond directly to it. Judges will have the opportunity to impose a different sentence in exceptional circumstances if there are exceptional circumstances relating to the offender or the offense that would make the application of the minimum sentence unfair.
- It will cover those emergency workers as defined in the same way by the Emergency Workers Act (Offenses) 2018 and in Article 68 of the Penal Code who acted in the exercise of their functions. These include police officers, officers of the National Crime Agency, prison officers, detention officers, firefighters and paramedics.
- Courts must now impose life sentences for murder and the starting point for the murder of a police officer or prison office acting in the performance of their duties for the offenses of 13 April 2015 or after is a life sentence. Courts can also impose a life sentence for negligent homicide.
- The Act on Assault on Emergency Workers (Violations) 2018 introduced an aggravating legal factor which means that judges should also consider harsher sentences for offenses such as manslaughter, GBH or sexual assault if the victim was an employee urgency (this has since been consolidated in the Penal Code and can be found in s67 of the Penalty Act 2020).
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