Harper's Law: 'An attack on a police officer is an attack on our democracy'

3 September 2020, 15:09 | Updated: 3 September 2020, 15:17

By Fiona Jones

The passing of Harper's Law will show society recognises that "when you attack a police officer...you are attacking our democracy," said the former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police.

The heartbroken widow of Pc Andrew Harper has taken her campaign for Harper’s Law to senior ministers which calls for those who kill emergency workers to be jailed for life.

Lissie Harper began the campaign after the three teenagers responsible for her 28-year-old husband's death were handed determinate prison sentences for manslaughter.

Nick Ferrari asked former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Sir Peter Fahy what Harper’s Law would mean to those in the emergency services.

Sir Peter responded, “Well it would be a huge reassurance in the public support to understand what they do but I think it is wider than that.

“It’s about the whole of society saying that we recognise that when you attack a police officer you are not attacking an individual, you are attacking a uniform, you are attacking an institution, you are attacking our democracy. Attacking a police officer is an attack on the rule of law.

Widow Lissie Harper is calling for life sentences for those who kill emergency workers
Widow Lissie Harper is calling for life sentences for those who kill emergency workers. Picture: PA/LBC

"We ask police officers and other emergency workers to take on specific risks on our behalf to uphold the rule of law and hold up our society. It’s really important that families of officers and other emergency workers killed on duty...feel society recognises that.”

Nick observed there has been an increase in attacks on officers, which Sir Peter attributed to an increasing influence of alcohol and drugs and higher disregard for the safety of the public.

Sir Peter explained the law is not putting individual police officers on a pedestal or saying they're above criticism, "it's about the rule of law."

A recent report estimates that 40,000 officers in a year has been assaulted and the former Chief Constable observed, "What we don't see behind those figures is the individual cases. I know a Greater Manchester former officer who's in pain every single day...who's had life-changing injuries and his family live with that every single day."

He called for the Home Secretary to also bring in a covenant for officers which will enshrine in law the support for police officers who are injured in duty.