Campaign for tougher jail terms for police killers has huge backing, Pc Harper's mother says

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies

The mother of Pc Andrew Harper has said she was "blown away with the response" to her campaign for tougher punishments for those who kill police officers.

Debbie Adlam launched 'Andrew's Law' on Wednesday, and she said there had already been significant support for the campaign

It calls for a minimum term of 20 years for anyone who takes an officer's life, with no chance of parole during that time.

"We're just blown away by the response so far", Ms Adlam told ITV's Good Morning Britain on Thursday.

"This is all to be done in Andrew's name, but for the benefit of others. Andrew's not lucky enough to benefit from it, but I know for a fact that this is something he would fully support."

  • Debbie Adlam explains why she is calling for sentencing reform

Pc Harper, a 28-year-old Thames Valley Police officer, died as he tried to stop three thieves fleeing after they stole a quad bike in Stanford Dingley, Berkshire, on August 15 last year.

Pc Harper was caught in a crane strap dangling from the back of a Seat Toledo driven by one of the thieves and dragged to his death.

Henry Long, Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers were convicted of killing Pc Andrew Harper. Credit: Thames Valley Police

Henry Long, 19, and 18-year-olds Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers were sentenced for the newlywed's manslaughter.

"To me, that's not a punishment fitting the crime", Ms Adlam said. "My son isn't coming back because of their criminality."

On Tuesday, the Attorney General's Office confirmed that it has been asked to consider if the jail terms handed to Pc Harper's killers are too lenient.

Long was sentenced to 16 years, while Cole and Bowers were each handed 13-year terms.

Currently, defendants under the age of 21 receive lower sentences, but Ms Adlam believes this should end.

She said. "If you are 19, as one of the defendants was, 18 at the time, you can do so many things. You can sit on a jury at 18. To me, there's just no need for the reduction."

She added that since her son's death, she has struggled to feel positive and unable to focus on getting things done.

  • Debbie Adlam speaks to Ranvir Singh about the emotional impact of her son's death

Ms Adlam said: "We can go through all of the emotions in a day or two. You can be at the pits of desperation out of the blue. We get these waves of grief that come along".

Dal Babu, a former Metropolitan Police chief superintendent, backed Ms Adlam's call for a change in the law.

He said: "We're asking our first responders to turn up and put their lives in danger, as Pc Harper did on this occasion.

"We're talking about, for some of these suspects, serving eight years, one of them serving 10. That is not a fair situation when they've taken the life of an extraordinary individual like Pc Andrew Harper."

Pc Harper's widow, Lissie Harper, has launched her own campaign, backed by the Police Federation of England and Wales, for full-life prison terms for those who kill emergency services workers.

Lissie Harper speaks to the media outside the Old Bailey after the verdict was announced. Credit: PA Images

Shortly after the manslaughter verdict, Ms Harper said she had her "own life sentence to bear".

On Wednesday, she added: "As a widow of a police officer - a title which I would give everything to not have - I have witnessed first-hand the lenient and insufficient way in which the justice system deals with criminals who take the lives of our emergency workers.

"The people responsible for wreaking utter despair and grief in all of our lives will spend an inadequate amount of time behind bars."

Mrs Harper is due to meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel in the coming weeks.

Since 2015, the starting point for a judge sentencing an adult over the age of 21 who has been convicted of murdering a police or prison officer is a whole life sentence.

The judge then takes aggravating and mitigating factors into account before either passing a life sentence with a minimum jail term, or a whole life order.

A Ministry of Justice source said that the Justice Secretary will set out his proposals for sentencing reform later this year, adding: "No stone will be left unturned and we will look at everything from community orders up to sentences for serious violent crime."