By Lauren Edwards
On 15th August 2019, PC Andrew Harper, and a fellow police officer, from the Thames Valley Police, attended the scene of a burglary where three youths were attempting to steal a quad bike in Berkshire. As Harper gave chase to the vehicle speeding from the scene of the crime, he became caught up in the strap that they had planned to use to tow the quad bike, and was dragged by the assailant’s car for approximately one mile before becoming disentangled. The burglars fled the scene and Harper was sadly pronounced dead by attending paramedics.
Ten males aged between 13 and 30 were arrested from a nearby caravan site, 18-year-old Henry Long and 17-year-olds Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole were charged with murder. The trial took place at the Old Bailey in London, all three defendants denied murder and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal a quad bike. They were all cleared of murder and found guilty of manslaughter. Long was sentenced to 16 years and both Bowers and Cole to 13 years in prison.
Harper’s widow Lissie made a victim statement imploring Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Pritti Patel to allow a retrial to seek a murder verdict. The court received a request to review the sentences under the unduly lenient sentence scheme. At the same time, all three defendants appealed their convictions on the basis that they were too severe. All appeals were dismissed.
It is estimated that 20,000 assaults on emergency service workers take place each year, 90 percent of those are targeted at the police. NHS staff receive on average 200 assaults on a weekly basis. Lissie Harper, a new bride of just four weeks when her husband PC Harper was killed, launched a campaign in August 2020 to create Harper’s Law, whereby, anyone found guilty of killing a police officer, firefighter, nurse, doctor, prison officer or paramedic would be jailed for life.
I remember sitting in court when the verdict came in against those that killed Andrew and feeling totally helpless. I remember feeling so let down by our justice system and the laws that we have in place. It was then, and when it came to sentencing, that I knew that something had to change.Lissie Harper
Penny Lancaster, TV personality, model, and Mrs Rod Stewart, is now a serving Special Police Constable with the City of London police. Earlier this week, she told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that she recently helped save the life of a suicidal woman who she came across in a desperate state on a London bridge.
When you think of policing, you think of the most violent crimes but we’re out there to help the most vulnerable.Penny Lancaster
Lancaster received her police badge in April and can be seen on foot patrol throughout the square mile of London. She is a dedicated philanthropist, having been involved in various charities throughout her life. She has expressed that the reasons she chose to join the police, and is giving up her time without taking a wage, was to help give back to the community.
Lancaster is also the patron for the charity Care of Police Survivors (COPS) and is supporting Lissie Harper with her Harper’s Law campaign and on 18th June they will be taking part in the charity walk Light the Lakes in memory of police officers who have died in the line of duty.
More information on how you can help the campaign can be found at Harper’s Law.