The widow of Pc Andrew Harper has said she is “not going to stop” with her campaign to get the law changed in his name, saying it is needed “now more than ever”.
Lissie Harper wants to see the introduction of Harper’s Law – a mandatory life sentence for those who kill emergency workers due to a criminal act.
Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain (GMB), Mrs Harper said she hoped Home Secretary Priti Patel would “continue to show her support” for the campaign when she speaks at the Police Federation of England and Wales conference later on Wednesday.
Mrs Harper said she was “outraged” over the sentences handed to three teenagers over her husband’s death.
Henry Long, 19, was sentenced to 16 years and 18-year-olds Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers were handed 13 years in custody over the manslaughter of the Thames Valley Police traffic officer.
“I thought, well this isn’t right, this is not justice. Our justice system is here for a reason and it’s not working,” she told GMB.
She said of her campaign: “I’m not going to stop until we get it as soon as possible.”
Commenting on her husband, who was killed in the line of duty just four weeks after they got married, Mrs Harper said: “Andrew was just the epitome of a police officer.”
She continued: “He was devoted and dedicated to his job, but also he was just a kind and loving person, and we all miss him very much.
“That’s partly why I’m doing Harper’s Law, because somebody needs to stand up for the protectors and the people that are protecting the public.
“And if no-one else is going to do it then I certainly will and he’d be right here beside me fighting as well.”
Mrs Harper said the campaign for Harper’s Law was “so important to me”, adding: “I couldn’t think of anything I need to be doing more now for everyone, but also for Andrew.”
Explaining how the law would work, she said: “If somebody were to go out and commit a crime and ultimately caused a death of an emergency worker, they would then see themselves spending an adequate amount of time in prison instead of what I believe to be inadequate, which would result in a life sentence.”
She said the campaign was not just about the police, adding: “Now more than ever it’s just so clear that we need this, even the NHS workers, there’s 200 assaults a week… and that’s just not OK.”
Pc Harper, 28, was responding to a quad bike theft on his final shift with Thames Valley Police before his honeymoon when he was caught in a strap attached to the back of a car driven by Long down a winding country road in Berkshire on the night of August 15 2019.
He died at the scene.
Long admitted manslaughter and was sentenced to 16 years, while his passengers Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers were convicted of manslaughter after a trial at the Old Bailey. They were each handed 13-year sentences.
The Court of Appeal last year rejected a bid by the Attorney General to increase the sentences handed to the trio.
Speaking at the conference, Ms Patel described meeting Mrs Harper and Mr Harper’s mother Debbie as “terribly moving experiences”.
She said: “As you know, Harper’s Law is a campaign for tougher sentences for people who kill emergency workers. And the Police Federation has spoken to me about widespread unhappiness about the leniency and inconsistent application of sentences.
“I share that unhappiness.
“The Ministry of Justice is reviewing the current law and considering what a new offence could look like. I want you to know that I take this extremely seriously.”