Federation welcomes mandatory life sentence for those who kill police officers

South Wales Police Federation has welcomed the announcement of mandatory life sentences for anyone convicted of killing an emergency worker while in the act of committing a crime.

Chair Steve Treharne said Harper’s Law, named for Thames Valley’s PC Andrew Harper who was killed in the line of duty in 2019, would act as a strong deterrent.

He added: “I would like to pay tribute to Andrew’s widow Lissie Harper for her dignified and tenacious campaign. I hope the change in the law she secured will go some way to deterring future acts of violence against my colleagues. We have seen their terrible consequences too many times and enough is enough.

“Policing is dangerous and unpredictable. Yet officers nevertheless put themselves in harm’s way every day as we set out to protect society. The least we expect is that the law should have their backs and I think the developments today show we are starting to make progress – what a worthy legacy for PC Andrew Harper.”

The move today follows an unwavering campaign by Andrew’s family, including Lissie, and the Federation, and comes after several meetings with the Justice Secretary and Home Secretary.

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.”

John Apter, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, commented: “I hope the introduction of a mandatory life sentence for anyone convicted of killing a police officer, or emergency worker, will act as a strong deterrent and stop needless violence against my colleagues.”

Henry Long, Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers each received custodial sentences of between 13 and 19 years in prison for PC Harper’s manslaughter. An appeal by the Attorney General to increase their time behind bars was rejected.

The change in the law will extend mandatory life sentences to anyone who commits the manslaughter of an emergency worker on duty – including police – while carrying out another crime unless there are truly exceptional circumstances.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “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.”

The move builds on the success of the Federation in securing a doubling of the maximum sentence for assaulting an emergency worker to two years as part of the upcoming Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.