The widow of tragic Pc Andrew Harper said senior Government figures have signalled their backing for her campaign for Harper’s Law after a face-to-face meeting in Westminster with Priti Patel.
Lissie Harper said the Home Secretary and her Cabinet colleague Robert Buckland QC, the Justice Secretary, “promised to work with us and support us in achieving our goal” during a meeting at the Home Office on Wednesday.
Mrs Harper is campaigning for a new law meaning those who kill emergency workers due to a criminal act are jailed for life, after the three teenagers responsible for her 28-year-old husband’s death were handed determinate prison sentences for manslaughter.
I promise I won’t be shying away from the limelight to keep the pressure on those in power to make this happenLissie Harper
In a statement after the meeting, Mrs Harper, 29, said: “They (Ms Patel and Mr Buckland) spoke and listened well today and I am pleased to say they promised to work with us and support us in achieving our goal of providing justice to families of emergency services workers, and stiffer and more appropriate sentences for those who take their lives.
“We know this won’t happen overnight and now wait for the next steps.
“We need change. I will not allow this to be kicked into the long grass.
“And I promise I won’t be shying away from the limelight to keep the pressure on those in power to make this happen.”
Mrs Harper said Government civil servants will now work with the Harper’s Law team on the details of the plans with a view to trying to achieve their goal.
It came as a petition backing the “vital and urgent” law change reached more than 650,000 signatures.
Under current law in England and Wales, those convicted of murder are routinely handed life sentences with a minimum term of imprisonment.
Mrs Harper also wants life sentences to be applied in cases where someone is convicted of killing an emergency services worker, regardless of whether they intended to cause a death.
Andrew Harper had been married for just four weeks when he was caught in a tow strap attached to a getaway car and dragged to his death as he and a Thames Valley Police colleague responded to a late-night burglary in Sulhamstead, Berkshire, in August last year.
Two of Pc Harper’s killers – 18-year-olds Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole – have lodged applications with the Court of Appeal seeking permission to challenge their manslaughter convictions and their 13-year prison sentences.
They were jailed alongside getaway driver Henry Long, 19, who was handed a 16-year sentence, also for manslaughter.
The Attorney General Suella Braverman QC has also referred the jail terms to the Court of Appeal to consider whether the sentences were unduly lenient.
Mrs Harper, who was supported at Wednesday’s meeting by the Police Federation, said: “I wanted to sit down with the Home Secretary and describe to her how it feels to look the people responsible for my husband’s death in the eye, knowing that they show no remorse for their actions and knowing that they will be released into the world once more to return to their lives of crime.
“I told Ms Patel and Mr Buckland in no uncertain terms my widely held view that the justice system is broken, and that we need Harper’s Law to help fix it.
“The least we can expect from our justice system is that it ensures criminals who kill those emergency services workers protecting us are given appropriate and substantial prison sentences.”
She added: “Being here at the Home Office and meeting with key members of the Government is a great accomplishment for the campaign. But this is not the end of the road.”