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Harper's Law: Offenders who kill emergency workers to be handed life sentences in new reforms

It follows a campaign by Lissie Harper - the widow of Oxfordshire PC Andrew Harper - who died in 2019.

Mandatory life sentences for anyone convicted of killing an emergency worker whilst committing a crime - such as police, prison officers, fire service personnel or frontline health workers - is among a raft of changes in the law that have come into force today.

Known as Harper’s Law, it follows a campaign by Lissie Harper, the widow of Oxfordshire Pc Andrew Harper.

The 28-year-old died from his injuries when he was caught in a strap attached to the back of a getaway car in Berkshire in 2019.

Henry Long, 19, was sentenced to 16 years for the manslaughter of the Thames Valley Police traffic officer, whilst 18-year-olds Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers were handed 13 years in custody.

All three were cleared of murder by a jury.

Mrs Harper, 30, previously said she was “outraged” over the sentences handed to the three teenagers responsible for her husband’s death.

It's also hoped serious sexual and violent offenders will be kept behind bars for longer, under the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act.

The prime minister believes the changes will 'make our streets safer.'

Making whole-life orders, the most severe punishment available in the UK criminal justice system, the starting point for pre-meditated child murder is among the new measures.

Ending the automatic early release of offenders deemed to be a danger to the public are also part of the act, whilst domestic abuse victims are to get more time to report common assault or battery crimes to police.

A new breastfeeding voyeurism offence could see anyone who takes photographs or video recordings of nursing mothers without their consent facing up to two years in prison.

There is also an aim that the most violent and sexual offenders, including rapists, will also be forced to spend longer in prison.

Mr Johnson said: “We have changed the law so that dangerous criminals are given the sentences they deserve and kept behind bars, and we are backing the police with the powers they need to keep us safe.

“We are well on our way to getting 20,000 more police officers, and we will continue to support victims seeking justice and bear down on crime so that everyone, in every town, village and city, has the security and confidence they deserve.”

Judges will now be able to hand down life sentences to dangerous drivers who kill, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) states.

The maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs has been increased to a life sentence and a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving has been created.

Judges can impose whole life orders on 18-20-year-olds who commit the worst offences such as acts of terrorism which cause mass loss of life.

The reforms also relate to child murderers and include the introduction of new starting points for deciding the minimum amount of time in custody based on age and seriousness of offence.

There will also be fewer opportunities for over 18 year-olds who committed murder as a child to have their minimum term reviewed.

An offence of intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance is now available in an effort to crack down on disruptive “guerrilla protests”.

These are the sort of tactics which have been used by climate change protesters who have taken their campaigns to the streets.

The MoJ says the police will also be supported with new powers to tackle non-violent protests that have a significant disruptive effect on the public or on access to Parliament.

Profoundly deaf people who need a BSL (British Sign Language) interpreter are to be able to sit on juries.

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