PC Andrew Harper loved being a police officer.
Today and every day, his Thames Valley colleagues remember him as “Harps”, a brave hero killed on duty doing his job.
PC Andrew Harper was a dedicated officer killed by cowardly criminals, writes Craig O’Leary [/caption]
Craig O’Leary is the Chairman of Thames Valley Police Federation[/caption]
Craig joins calls by PC Harper’s widow Lissie for ‘Andrew’s Law’ to lock up cop killers for life[/caption]
On August 15 last year Andrew should have been going home to his wife Lissie and looking forward to a long and loving marriage and a highly successful career.
He stayed on four hours after his shift finished to combat crime. That’s what police officers do.
But on that summer night his life was taken away from him by cowardly criminals who are not worthy of being named.
They should be spending the rest of their lives in jail for their despicable crime. They will not.
And that is why we need an Andrew’s Law, which would see criminals convicted of killing emergency services workers spend the rest of their lives in jail.
The Police Federation of England and Wales — and all our brave colleagues across the country — fully sup- port Andrew’s widow Lissie in her call that anyone killing a police officer, fire fighter, nurse, doctor or paramedic spends the rest of their lives behind bars.
The dangers out there for our policing colleagues, who we represent, are very real.
Police officers go to work each and every day to fight crime and protect the public. But in doing so, every day 84 police officers in England and Wales are assaulted on duty. Punched, kicked, bitten, spat at, driven at by cars, stabbed. And sometimes worse.
More than 30,000 colleagues were assaulted last year, many receiving bad injuries.
Sadly, on very rare and horrendous occasions, a colleague makes the ultimate sacrifice. We know many of their names.
PC Keith Blakelock. PC Sharon Beshenivsky. PC Nicola Hughes. PC Fiona Bone. PC Yvonne Fletcher. PC Dave Phillips. PC Ian Dibell. PC Keith Palmer.
And now, of course, PC Andrew Harper.
PC Keith Blakelock: Murdered in 1985 during Broadwater Farm riots[/caption]
PC Nicola Hughes: Dale Cregan killed her in Manchester in 2012[/caption]
PC Fiona Bone: Killed alongside PC Hughes by one-eyed thug Cregan[/caption]
PC Keith Palmer: Killed by terrorist outside Parliament in 2017[/caption]
PC Sharon Beshenivsky: Robbers shot her dead in 2005[/caption]
PC Ian Dibell: Off-duty cop shot dead in 2012 after intervening in row[/caption]
When police officers are killed on duty, then it hits right at the heart of our democracy. We ask police officers to go out there and keep the Queen’s peace on behalf of society.
So society must offer the greatest protection for those who are killed protecting it.
Those guilty of such a wicked and deliberate crime such as killing a police officer forfeit their right to freedom. Those responsible should face the rest of their lives in prison. Those in society who hurt those there to protect us should face the full force of the law and judicial system.
The law must be changed. We must protect the protectors.
In 2013 then Home Secretary Theresa May told hundreds of police officers at the Police Federation Annual Conference that criminals who kill a police officer should automatically face life in prison without parole.
She said: “We ask police officers to keep us safe by confronting and stopping violent criminals for us.
PC Yvonne Fletcher: Killed by bullet fired from Libyan Embassy in 1984[/caption]
“We ask them to take risks so that we don’t have to. That is why I am clear that life should mean life for anyone convicted of killing a police officer.”
That is as true today as it was then. But seven years on, that has not happened. Nothing has changed.
Those who killed Andrew will be free in a few years, while Andrew’s wife Lissie — as she says — faces a life sentence.
Police officers are pleased to have the public support of the current Home Secretary Priti Patel and Prime Minister Boris Johnson. But we need more than these words. We need action. We need Andrew’s Law.
We need to sit down with the Home Secretary and have a sensible discussion around some of the proposals.
I know the Home Secretary is fully aware of this campaign and my appeal to her would be to come and sit down with Lissie and myself and have this discussion.
Since we lost Andrew, the support we have received from the police family and the public in the UK — and indeed across the world — has been overwhelming.
On behalf of all my colleagues in Thames Valley Police, and all officers across the country, I would like to express my gratitude for that support. It has been really appreciated in what has been an incredibly tough time for all.
We now need to harness that support and call on the British public and politicians of all parties to back Lissie in her campaign.
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No change of law will bring Andrew back.
But by creating a new Andrew’s Law we hope those loved ones of police officers, and indeed all emergency services workers who sadly have to go through what Lissie has been through, in the future will soon get the justice that they rightly deserve.
That would be a fitting legacy for Harps.
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