Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire David Lloyd has backed plans to give emergency workers greater protection from violent criminals.
He has backed ‘Harper’s Law’ which is set to introduce mandatory life sentences for those killers who attack workers while they are on duty.
Named after PC Andrew Harper, who died 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 Ministry of Justice aims to pass Harper’s Law in England and Wales “as soon as possible”.
The law will cover police, prison officers, firefighters, and paramedics. It will be applied unless there are “truly exceptional circumstances”.
Mr Lloyd 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.”
The change in the law follows a long and passionate campaign by Lissie Harper, the widow of Police Constable Andrew Harper.
Newly-married PC Harper was 28 when he was dragged to his death by a getaway car in August 2019. Three teenagers were jailed for manslaughter after the incident.
His widow 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.
There were approximately 10,000 convictions for assaults on emergency workers last year across England and Wales.
The courts must already impose life sentences for murder and the starting point for the murder of a police officer or prison office acting in the course of their duties for offences on or after 13 April 2015 is a whole life order. The courts can also impose a life sentence for manslaughter.
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).