Online Editions

27th Nov, 2021

Harper's Law: Ambulance chiefs back mandatory life sentences for emergency worker killers

Rob George 24th Nov, 2021

AMBULANCE chiefs have welcomed the Government’s proposed new law which will see the introduction of mandatory life sentences for those who kill an emergency worker in the line of duty.

West Midlands Ambulance Service spoke out after the Government reveal it intended to introduce Harper’s Law, named after PC Andrew Harper who died in 2019 while investigating a robbery.

The change in law extends mandatory life sentences to anyone who commits the manslaughter of an emergency worker on duty unless there are truly exceptional circumstances. Courts must already impose life sentences for murder.

Trust chief executive Anthony Marsh, said: “Our ambulance crews go above and beyond every single day, often in very difficult circumstances, but the appalling reality is that on average, at least one member of our staff is physical assaulted every single day and last year, two were stabbed.

“All too often our staff are left feeling let down by the justice system when people convicted of assaulting them receive disappointingly light sentences, so anything that provides our staff with more protection can only be a good thing.

“It is imperative that the wider judiciary be more consistent in applying tougher sentences to perpetrators who are convicted of any form of violence, aggression or abuse towards our staff, not just those that result in a death.

“Violence and aggression towards anyone is unacceptable, but emergency services workers need particular additional protection due to the nature of their work on the frontline,” he added.

Thanks to funding from NHS England, the Trust started rolling out the use of body worn cameras for all frontline staff in October. The cameras do not record all of the time but are switched on when staff become concerned for their safety.

The Trust is undertaking a three-month trial to examine the viability of providing stab proof vests to staff with 22 volunteers taking part.

Paramedic Deena Evans was one of those stabbed last year and is taking part in the trial.

“It’s a shame it’s come to this, but I couldn’t be more relieved! I feel less anxious about working frontline shifts wearing it,” she said.

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