Father of police officer killed in the line of duty backs tough new law for victims and families

Video report by correspondent Elaine Willcox

The father of a young police officer who was killed in the line of duty is welcoming a tough new law which promises that victims and their families will get justice.It means that anyone who kills a member of the emergency services when they are on duty will face a mandatory life sentence.

PC Nicola Hughes (left) and PC Fiona Bone

PC Nicola Hughes was murdered attending a seemingly routine call in Mottram in Longdendale, Greater Manchester in 2012.

Her father Bryn Hughes is pleased that the new rule is likely to become law early next year, although he says it is long overdue.

Harper's Law is named after PC Andrew Harper who was killed in 2019 while answering a late-night burglary call.

The 28 year old died from his injuries when he was caught in a strap attached to the back of a car and dragged down a winding country road as three men fled the scene of a quad bike theft in Berkshire.

Henry Long, 19, was sentenced to 16 years and 18 year olds Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers were handed 13 years in custody over the traffic officer's manslaughter.

Long, the leader of the group, admitted manslaughter, while passengers Cole and Bowers were convicted of manslaughter after a trial at the Old Bailey.

All three were cleared of murder by the jury.

The sentences prompted PC Harper's widow to lobby the government to better protect emergency services workers on the front line.

Lissie Harper, the widow of PC Andrew Harper Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire/PA Images

Police officers, National Crime Agency officers, prison officers, custody officers, firefighters and paramedics are all defined as emergency services workers.

The courts must already impose life sentences for murder, although they can also be applied to other violent offences.

A life sentence lasts for the rest of a person's life.

It means they can be sent back to prison if they commit another offence upon release from custody after serving at least the minimum sentence imposed by the courts.

In Bryn's daughter's case, Dale Cregan was sentenced to life without parole after admitting murdering Nicola and her colleague Fiona Bone.

Mr Hughes told Granada Reports that emergency workers are easy targets.

Bryn sits on the Ministry of Justice's victims panel although it hasn't met for almost two years.

He wants the new law to result in more protection to those working to protect us and hopes it is not a populist move to win votes.

Both peers and MPs would have to agree to the proposed amendment to introduce the law Credit: SOPA Images/SIPA USA/PA Images

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is currently being considered in the House of Lords and both peers and MPs would have to agree to the proposed amendment to introduce the new law as part of the legislation.

Home Secretary Priti Patel, said: "It is right that future killers be stripped of the freedom to walk our streets with a life sentence."

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said Harper's Law will "bring lasting change" and Labour will support the proposals when they come before Parliament.