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.

More Tom Swarbrick

See more More Tom Swarbrick

‘When the pubs suffer, everyone suffers’: Pub landlord speaks to LBC

‘When the pubs suffer, everyone suffers’: Pub landlord speaks to LBC

Vi and Ray Donovan MBE told Tom Swarbrick how they forgave their son's killers

Parents share how they forgave their son's killers in amazing LBC call

Dr Hopkins said anyone with coronavirus symptoms should get a PCR test.

Top UK medical adviser: New Covid strain could re-infect people who have recovered

Reaction to Omicron 'totally over the top', says South Africa top doc

Reaction to Omicron 'totally over the top', says South Africa top doc

Dr Mike Tildesley told LBC it's "very early days" on the Omicron variant

Scientific adviser: We don’t yet know if Omicron resists vaccines or is more contagious

South African Health Minister Dr Joe Phaala told Tom Swarbrick outbreaks at universities fuelled the Omicron spike.

Universities fuelled Omicron outbreak, says South African Health Minister

Swarbrick on Sunday | Watch in Full

Swarbrick on Sunday 28/11 | Watch again

Andy Burnham vows 'cross-party alliance' to level up North of England

Andy Burnham vows 'cross-party alliance' to level up North of England

Robert Buckland told Tom Swarbrick he would not support the change

Tory MP tells LBC he'll vote against Govt social care changes

Swarbrick on Sunday | Watch live from 10am

Swarbrick on Sunday 21/11 | Watch again

The shadow Leader of the House of Commons called on the PM to consider his position.

Shadow Commons Leader calls on PM to consider position over sleaze scandal

Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman's mother Mina Smallman has spoken to LBC.

'Sick of platitudes': Mother of murdered sisters tells Met Police to 'get the rot out'

Minister confirms taxpayer will foot bill for UK nuclear power strategy

Minister confirms taxpayer will foot bill for UK nuclear power strategy

Swarbrick on Sunday | Watch in Full

Swarbrick on Sunday 31/10 | Watch again

Post-lockdown extremism fears: 'We know radicalisation takes place online'

Post-lockdown extremism fears: 'We know radicalisation takes place online'

Lisa Nandy: 'I don't feel particularly safe doing the job'

Lisa Nandy: 'I don't feel particularly safe doing the job'