PC Harper killing: Officer's mother wants tougher sentences for those who kill police officers

August 05, 2020

PC Andrew Harper's mother has told Sky News frontline police officers "need protection" as she launched a campaign to call for tougher sentences for those who injure or kill police officers.

"If we don't have police officers coming through and being treated properly we won't have a police force and we need a police force," Debbie Adlam added.

Mrs Adlam, 53, from Oxfordshire, has said she wants those who injure or kill police officers or serve a minimum 20 year term as part of "Andrew's Law".

She said: "I really believe that we need a clear cut system for how things are going to be in the future, if you kill or seriously injure a police officer or any blue light worker there should be a minimum term."

PC Harper was killed on 15 August last year. Mrs Adlam said the past 12 months had been "the worst year of our lives", adding: "I don't think I've even started to accept he's not coming back."

She said she missed his "comical presence... he just lit up the rooms, he was so funny, caring, comical, he just had a real lust for life".

The 28-year-old was trying to stop three teenagers stealing a quad bike near Sulhamstead, Berkshire, last August, when he got tangled in the tow rope dangling from the back of their vehicle.

A trial heard he was dragged at "breakneck speed" for more than a mile along country lanes before he was dislodged, having suffered horrific injuries.

Ringleader, 19-year-old Henry Long, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for manslaughter, but could be released in less than 11 years.

Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, were sentenced to 13 years.

But they could be out on licence after serving less than nine years, under legislation that requires that two thirds of a sentence is served before prisoners are eligible for release.

Mrs Adlam said: "We didn't get what we thought was right for Andrew but we've had to go through this trial thinking we'd be in a different position now.

"There should be a minimum term and we are looking at a minimum of 20 years but with no reductions for being of a certain age or because you've done your early admittance.

"If you've killed a police officer when they're working, they died because of your actions, there shouldn't be a murder/manslaughter debate if you've killed that officer while he's doing his job.

"If we don't have police officers coming through and being treated properly we won't have a police force and we need a police force."

She added: "We're going to call it 'Andrew's Law' in memory of Andrew - his legacy has to be something more positive, the legacy can't be the sentence that was received for the court case.

"Everything that Andrew stood up for and believed in was to do good and we need a police force we can rely on and we need to protect those people. Every officer that comes in is somebody's son, somebody's brother and they need protection."

The campaign is backed by PC Harper's widow Lissie Harper. She said: "I pledge to my late husband to never stop until I have made the difference that this country clearly needs.

"I vow to stand strong and firm with so many other honourable people in our country to make the changes that we clearly know to be justified."

The campaign is also supported by the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents thousands of officers up to the rank of chief inspector.

Mrs Adlam said she wanted to use her son's police number, 7605, and a feather with a blue line, to represent the "thin blue line" as emblems for the campaign.

She said she had recently found a black feather with a blue stripe and it "just felt like a gift, it's absolutely treasured".

In July, she received a letter from Home Secretary Priti Patel, who wrote "if there's ever anything I can do, please let me know".

In a statement to Sky News, the secretary of state said: "PC Andrew Harper was a hero who epitomised the bravery and sacrifice that make our police the best in the world.

"I have met Debbie and know the extent of the pain and anguish this terrible crime inflicted on her and the rest of PC Harper's family, friends and colleagues.

"His life was cruelly cut short and his incredible bravery and extraordinary sacrifice will not be forgotten.

"The sentences of those convicted of killing PC Harper have been referred to the attorney general for consideration under the unduly lenient sentencing scheme."

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