Government announces Harper’s Law set to be introduced

Harper's Law concept
Legally reviewed by: Kevin Waddingham In: Criminal Defence

The Government has announced Harper’s Law, which will see mandatory life sentences introduced for offenders who cause the death of emergency service workers whilst committing a crime.

The law change, which has been called Harper’s Law, follows a long-running campaign by Lissie Harper, the widow of PC Andrew Harper who was killed in the line of duty in 2019.

The campaign was supported by the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank-and-file officers.

She began her campaign to better protect emergency services workers on the front line after the three people deemed responsible for her husband’s death were awarded 16, 13 and 13-year sentences for manslaughter after being cleared of murder by a jury.

Courts must already impose life sentences for murder but the change will now extend mandatory life sentences to anyone who commits the manslaughter of an emergency worker on duty while carrying out another crime unless there are truly exceptional circumstances.

Police officers, National Crime Agency officers, prison guards, custody officers, firefighters and paramedics are all defined as emergency services workers under the law.

Harper’s Law is expected to be added to the existing Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which means it will be expected to get Royal Assent and become law early next year.

Announcing the upcoming change, the Justice Secretary, Dominic Raab said: “We are going to pass into law mandatory life sentences for those who unlawfully kill an emergency worker in the course of their duty.

“This Government is on the side of victims and their families and we want our emergency services to know that we’ll always have their back. I pay tribute to Lissie Harper’s remarkable campaign.”

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