Widow of PC Andrew Harper calls for all police to be armed with tasers

27 September 2020, 13:27 | Updated: 28 September 2020, 18:29

By Joe Cook

Lissie Harper, widow of Pc Andrew Harper who was killed while on duty last year, has told LBC’s Swarbrick on Sunday she believes all officers should be armed with tasers.

Ms Harper made the comments after saying she is “devastated” by Friday’s killing of Sgt Matt Ratana at Croydon Custody Centre.

Speaking to Tom Swarbrick she made the point that officers don't necessarily need to use a taser, but "to have that there, so that people realise they are going to get hurt unless they stop, is huge."

“I think that the respect is gone for emergency workers and we are not realising that they do a lot for us and if we need them that is who we will turn to.”

“It is just something that keeps happening it seems and it is just awful,” she added.

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Sgt Matt Ratana was killed in a fatal shooting at Croydon Custody Centre in south London in the early hours of Friday.

Ms Harper said the killing “of course it brought back a lot of memories for me, I just felt disgusted that this sort of thing is still happening but also in a police station is just ridiculous.”

“Losing somebody anyway is hard, but in this sort of situation where they are at work and doing their duty is even harder I think. It just makes you feel angry and disappointed.”

PC Harper, a Thames Valley Police traffic officer, died when he was caught in a tow rope and dragged along country lanes after trying to stop quad bike thieves in Berkshire in August last year.

Speaking to Tom, the widow and campaigner said if she could tell Sgt Ratana’s family anything “it would be that you can get through this and things will start to ease.

“It is going to be a hell of a journey but the country is there to support them, as they have been with me.”

PC Harper's three teenage killers were cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter after an Old Bailey trial.

Henry Long, 19, has applied for permission to appeal against his 16-year jail sentence, while 18-year-olds Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole are looking to challenge their convictions and 13-year prison terms.

Read more: Paramedic shares emotional video message after spitting assault

Ms Harper is now campaigning for a new ‘Harper’s law’ and has met the Home Secretary Priti Patel and members of the Labour Party to build cross party support for the new law.

Explaining the law, Ms Harper said: “Harper’s [law] will be its own conviction. It doesn’t matter if it is manslaughter or murder, if someone is found guilty of killing a police officer, nurse, doctor, paramedic or prison officer as a result of a crime that they have committed then they will face a life sentence.

“No life is worth more and certainly not that of a police officer or other emergency worker. But the sad fact is that these people, in their jobs everyday, face danger and risk much, much more and they need the protection.

“Not only will this give them protection if the worst should happen, but also hopefully act as some kind of deterrent.

“There needs to be consequences to these criminals who intend to hurt emergency workers. It is not about their lives being worth more. It is merely about, let’s make this change for our heroes who we are not appreciating.”

There are concerns that the reintroduction of lockdown measures will result in more attacks against emergency workers.

One paramedic shared an emotional video message after being spat at in the back of an ambulance by a young woman, saying it left her emotionally “pretty broken”.

Ms Harper said: “I think as time has gone on, for years and years it is getting worse and not just for police but also paramedics are getting attacked. There is this constant outcry.”