4 May 2022
It should not have taken a tragedy for the Government to introduce Harper’s Law but it’s positive that officers now have more protection, Wiltshire Police Federation has said.
Chair Phil Matthews was speaking after The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Act received Royal Assent – meaning the introduction of Harper’s Law and the Police Covenant.
Now Harper’s Law is on the statute book, anyone convicted of killing a police officer or other emergency worker while committing a crime will receive a life sentence. This concludes a long campaign by PC Andrew Harper’s widow Lissie.
Meanwhile the Police Covenant, which aims to provide long-term support and protection for the police family, has also been enshrined in law.
Phil Matthews said: “To see Harper’s Law and these other laws come into force gives me mixed feelings. I am very pleased to see officers on the streets getting better and deserved protection from our courts and sentencing.
“However it is saddening that this has come off the back of the loss of another police officer. Why wasn’t this already in law? Why do we have to have such tragedy before the law becomes more supportive? Save for the amazing and commendable work of Lissie Harper, would this even be happening?
“While I am extremely happy Harper’s Law is now in statute, it shouldn’t stop here. The Government needs to start being more proactive in its approach and not reactive to things like the tragic loss of police officers.”
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act also doubles the maximum jail term from 12 months to two years for those who assault police or other emergency workers.
In addition, Serious Violence Reduction Orders give officers new stop-and-search powers against known knife offenders. Police will also have more powers to tackle non-violence protests and unauthorised encampments.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Passing the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act is integral to our Beating Crime Plan and delivers on our commitments to back the police, level up the entire country and give everyone the security of a safe street and home.
“This act will support the 20,000 additional police recruits that will be in place this time next year to reduce serious violence, including knife crime and domestic abuse, and make sure the very worst criminals are thrown behind bars for the longest possible time.”
But Phil said that it was inaccurate for the Government to refer to new officers as “additional”.
He said: “To address the comments by Priti Patel, who boasts about the additional 20,000 police officers, this simply isn’t the case. The increase in the amount of police officers is only replacing those who were cut since 2010, under this Government.
“After the uplift programme, when the 20,000 replacement officers are in post, I would like to see an actual increase in officers.”
Full details of the Bill can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/boost-for-public-safety-as-four-justice-bills-receive-royal-assent