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Harper's Law moves a step closer, widow reveals

Legislation is being drafted to get Harper’s Law onto the statute books, the PC’s widow has revealed.

Officials at the Ministry of Justice have begun drafting legislation to make Harper’s Law a reality and lead to a life jail term for offenders who kill emergency service workers.

The change in the law is being championed by Lissie Harper, widow of Thames Valley PC Andrew Harper who was killed on duty.

In an update on social media, she revealed that government legal experts are now writing the draft legislation. This is usually the first step towards enabling Parliamentary scrutiny that will get the changes onto the statute book.

Ms Harper posted: “We have just had another successful meeting recently with the Ministry of Justice, who are working hard to ensure the legislation is just right and as effective as possible in ensuring that justice is given to our brave emergency services heroes.”

Currently, when someone is killed on duty the offender is charged with either murder or manslaughter and there is no difference in law for Blue Light workers. That’s despite them being increasingly targeted for attacks.

And the number of incidents is increasing. According to official figures, in 2019/20 there were over 30,000 assaults on police officers in England and Wales.

Greater Manchester Police Federation revealed the COVID-19 lockdown has added to those number.

“There's been a 19% increase in assaults on emergency workers. The rise is thought to be driven by increases in common assaults on police officers, including suspects spitting on officers while claiming to be infected with Covid-19,” it said.

Harper's Law will mean that a person found guilty of killing a police officer, firefighter, nurse, doctor, paramedic or prison officer, as a direct result of a crime they have committed, would be jailed for life.

This means that a life sentence would be imposed, asking for a minimum term in prison.

But her campaign, which has already gained massive public support plus backing from the Police Federation and National Police Chiefs' Council, faces a long haul.

Finn’s Law, which increased tariffs for people who attack police dogs, took three years to progress into law.

To keep the issue on the agenda, Ms Harper has begun working with an ITV documentary crew to show the reality of life on the line for Blue Light personnel.

She said: “As part of the work to achieve Harper’s Law, I recognise how being in the public eye is important to highlight why this law change is desperately needed.

“We have begun filming this year and am hopeful that the programme will reflect the true nature of the work that our frontline emergency services workers do, the impact that the legal system has when the laws aren’t working - and also the tireless work that goes into a campaign such as this.” 

The government is currently using the Police and Crime Bill to increase the jail terms for people who assault police officers and this will impact on Parliamentary time that can be given to Harper’s Law.

Ms Harper said she is determined to see the campaign through: “We know this won’t happen overnight, but make no mistake, I will not allow this to be kicked into the long grass. There will be no reprieve until Harper’s Law is written in the history books.” 

The petition to support Harper’s Law can be found HERE

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