Former top cop explains why he doesn't support Harper's law

2 September 2020, 22:59

A former top police officer has revealed to LBC why he does not support Harper's Law and explained "we have to trust our judges who impose appropriate sentences."

Stephen Roberts, former Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the Metropolitan Police was speaking to LBC's Tom Swarbrick on the subject of assaults against police.

On Wednesday it was revealed about 39% of police officers have been assaulted in the past year but a third of staff are not happy with the safety training they have received.

Research involving 40,000 police officers and staff, thought to be the biggest survey of its kind, showed that 88% of officers said they had been assaulted during their career, with 39% having been attacked in the past year.

LBC presenter Tom asked the former Deputy Assistant Commissioner what he thought of Harper's Law.

The former top cop told LBC that he didn't think the proposed law would act as a deterrent, and he said he was "personally opposed to discretion being taken away from judges."

He told Tom Swarbrick "we have to trust our judges who impose appropriate sentences."

Mr Roberts said it was "the wrong way" to force judges to impose mandatory sentences with no leeway.

When Tom asked if "tougher punishment" was the answer to reduce attacks on police, Mr Roberts said he didn't think that was the solution.

"They happen in the heat of the moment, people aren't calculating whether they can do a particular thing," the former officer told LBC.

Harper's Law would see life sentences applied in cases where someone is convicted of killing an emergency services worker, regardless of whether they intended to cause a death.

Under current law in England and Wales, those convicted of murder are routinely handed life sentences with a minimum term of imprisonment.

Lissie Harper the widow of slain Pc Andrew Harper is due to meet with Priti Patel on Wednesday in an effort to harness political support for Harper's Law.

In a blog post at the weekend, she wrote: "Harper's Law will be a law which will mean that a person found guilty of killing a police officer, firefighter, nurse, doctor, paramedic or prison officer as a direct result of a crime they have committed, then they would be jailed for life.

"This means that a life sentence would be imposed, asking for a minimum term in prison. Details we plan to discuss with politicians and decision makers soon."

She said the campaign was not calling for whole-life orders, which would see perpetrators jailed without ever being released.