Harper's Law: Ambulance chiefs back mandatory life sentences for emergency worker killers

Ambulance chiefs have welcomed the Government's move to change the law to hand mandatory life sentences to people who kill emergency service workers.

Pc Harper, 28, was caught in a crane strap attached to the back of a car and dragged to his death down a winding country road as he chased quad bike thieves
Pc Harper, 28, was caught in a crane strap attached to the back of a car and dragged to his death down a winding country road as he chased quad bike thieves

Harper's Law is expected to become law early next year after a two-year campaign by Lissie Harper after her husband Pc Andrew Harper was killed in 2019.

The newly-married officer was only 28 when he was killed. Three teenagers were jailed for manslaughter after being cleared by jurors of the Pc's murder.

Now the Government has announced it would aim to pass the law "as soon as possible" – a move backed by the head of the West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS).

It comes as safety measures are being rolled out across the trust – including stab vests and body-worn cameras – to ensure all front-line staff are safe whilst doing their job.

Trust chief executive Anthony Marsh said: "Our ambulance crews go above and beyond every single day, often in very difficult circumstances, but the appalling reality is that on average, at least one member of our staff is physical assaulted every single day and last year, two were stabbed.

"All too often our staff are left feeling let down by the justice system when people convicted of assaulting them receive disappointingly light sentences, so anything that provides our staff with more protection can only be a good thing.

"It is imperative that the wider judiciary be more consistent in applying tougher sentences to perpetrators who are convicted of any form of violence, aggression or abuse towards our staff, not just those that result in a death.

"Violence and aggression towards anyone is unacceptable, but emergency services workers need particular additional protection due to the nature of their work on the frontline."

Pc Andrew Harper, seen here with wife Lissie, was caught in a crane strap attached to the back of a car and dragged to his death as he chased quad bike thieves

The trust has already started rolling out the use of body-worn cameras for all frontline staff in October. The cameras don't record all of the time but are switched on when staff become concerned for their safety.

And WMAS is also undertaking a three-month trial to examine the viability of providing stab proof vests to staff. The trial is taking place at the service's site in Willenhall with 22 volunteers taking part.

Willenhall-based paramedic Deena Evans, who was stabbed whilst on a call to a man's home in Wolverhampton last year with another member of staff, is among those taking part in the trial.

She said: “It’s a shame it’s come to this, but I couldn’t be more relieved! I feel less anxious about working frontline shifts wearing it."

The change in law extends mandatory life sentences to anyone who commits the manslaughter of an emergency worker on duty unless there are truly exceptional circumstances.

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