The family of hero PC Andrew Harper told of their heartbreak today as they called for greater protection for officers as a senior police chief slammed government funding cuts.
Thames Valley cop PC Harper died after responding to reports of a burglary when he was dragged under a getaway van and then hit by a police car heading to the scene.
Speaking from his home in Buckinghamshire, PC Harper’s uncle, Mark Harper, told MailOnline that stiffer sentences should be handed to those who attack emergency services personnel.
Newlywed PC Andrew Harper had married his fiancée Lissie on July 18, and they were due to go on honeymoon together next week
A police officer lays a floral tribute today at the scene where PC Harper died in Sulhamstead on Thursday night
John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said officers are ‘vulnerable’ to attacks due to cuts
He said: ‘Police officers need more protection. If anything good can come out of something as tragic as this, it has to be a greater deterrent to criminals.’
It comes as John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said officers are ‘vulnerable’ to attacks due to cuts.
He said: ‘We can’t ignore the reality that there are almost 22,000 fewer police officers and many thousands fewer police staff than there were 10 years ago.
‘That means in many parts of our communities, police officers are vulnerable, that’s the reality of it.’
He also said it was ‘shocking’ how ten police officers have been killed in the past decade.
New prime minister Boris Johnson has pledged to reverse years of police cuts by hiring 20,000 more officers, calling the incident a ‘mindless and brutal’ crime.
New prime minister Boris Johnson has pledged to reverse years of police cuts by hiring 20,000 more officers, calling the incident a ‘mindless and brutal’ crime
PC Harper was allegedly struck by a car in Berkshire and dragged under it for a distance
Flowers have been left at the scene where PC Harper was killed on Thursday as two tents remain at the side of the road today
Mr Harper said: ‘We are a close-knit family and we’ve been left absolutely devastated by this.
‘We are supporting one another at the moment and we’re being kept updated with the police investigation.
‘There isn’t anything more I can say really. We are all just so shattered.’
His death comes in the same week as two police officers survived horrific attacks, one in London who was stabbed by a machete and another run over by a suspected car thief in Birmingham.
Ten people – including a boy of 13 – have been arrested following the death of PC Harper, who married fiancée Lissie four weeks ago.
The incident at 11.30pm on Thursday took place next to the 12-bedroom Braeburn Lodge care home for the elderly (pictured: PC Andrew Harper)
Members of the public pass on flowers to a police officer this morning after PC Harper was dragged beneath a van
Police officers at the scene yesterday in Sulhamstead, Berkshire, after a detective was killed
Police chief Mr Apter said: ‘Every day police officers run towards the unknown, putting themselves in harm’s way to do their duty and protect the public. Sadly, on awful occasions such as this they make the ultimate sacrifice.
‘When one of us falls the loss is felt by the entire police family.’
He also thought societal attitudes to violence have changed, saying: ‘I think society has become a much more violent place and for some, life is cheap.
‘They think nothing of pulling out a knife and sticking it in someone for nothing more than a pair of trainers.’
Mr Johnson has also vowed to see violent offenders locked up for longer as a result of an ‘urgent review’ of sentencing laws.
Flowers are laid yesterday near to where Thames Valley Police office Andrew Harper was killed
Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley, Matthew Barber, said the incident raises the issue of whether officers should be routinely armed.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live’s Stephen Nolan, he said: ‘Undoubtedly this has raised the issue of arming police routinely.
‘I think we need to await the outcome of this investigation, it’s not clear at the moment whether that would have made any difference in these circumstances anyway.
‘I think one of the great things about British policing is that officers aren’t routinely armed. That’s obviously a point for discussion going forward.
‘Officers I talk to regularly have conflicting views about this, but the majority of officers I talk to feel that actually the unarmed police force that we have is a huge strength in this country.’
PC Harper(pictured) had been planning to take part in a charity run at the Dirty Weekend 2020 Burghley, a 20-mile obstacle course, for Children with Cancer UK
PC Harper’s family including his grandmother Maureen and uncle Dale have paid tribute
On Saturday morning officers stationed at the scene laid flowers near two tents which had been erected on Ufton Lane, with one describing him as ‘Thames Valley’s finest’.
Another tribute read: ‘A shockingly sad day. We come together as a brotherhood at times like this and hopefully your family can take some comfort from that love and support.’
Reading Football Club will pay tribute to Pc Andrew Harper with a minute’s silence ahead of their home game against Cardiff on Sunday.
The Championship side tweeted on Saturday: ‘On Thursday evening, Pc Andrew Harper – a member of Thames Valley Police – tragically lost his life in the line of duty in the Reading area.
‘Before kick-off on Sunday, we will invite all Royals and Cardiff City fans to observe a minute’s silence in tribute to PC Harper.’
Yesterday officers were seen attending a nearby Travellers’ site near Burghfield, where inquiries were carried out in relation to the incident.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which investigates when someone is hit by a police vehicle, has not yet opened an inquiry by an agreement with the force, it was reported.
Four weeks ago, PC Harper was posing for pictures on his wedding day, and cut the cake with new wife Lissie next to a sign reading ‘Happily Ever Harper’.
But yesterday it emerged the 28-year-old officer was the latest victim of Wild West Britain when he was mown down and ‘dragged along by a vehicle’ while responding to a burglary in Berkshire.
Ten people were arrested on suspicion of murder after the incident in Berkshire yesterday
Police attended a traveller site near Burghfield Common, about two miles from where PC Harper died, and officers were seen blocking entrance to the site as they carried out enquiries in relation to the death of PC Harper
PC Harper and his bride were due to go on honeymoon next week, but late on Thursday night the couple’s dreams were shattered in the cruellest fashion when the officer lost his life in the line of duty.
Last night, just over two miles from the crime scene, police were searching a travellers’ site, strewn with litter and children’s toys.
PC Harper’s death triggered a fresh debate over the level of serious crime on Britain’s streets. Only yesterday, Richard Atkins QC, the chairman of the Bar Council, warned that criminals were ‘going about their business unchallenged’.
MPs from all parties were united in their condemnation of the murder, describing it as ‘sickening’ and saying police officers had been left ‘dangerously exposed’.
Home Secretary Priti Patel, who declared last month that she wanted to see criminals ‘feel terror’ on the streets, said she was ‘devastated and appalled’ by PC Harper’s murder.
Pictured: Officers lay flowers at the scene where PC Andrew Harper was killed in Berkshire
PC Harper’s devastated family described the officer – a ‘highly regarded’ member of Thames Valley Police – as ‘the loveliest person that you will ever meet’.
PC Harper, who became a regular officer in 2011 after joining as a special constable a year earlier, had attended the reported break-in near the village of Sulhamstead with a colleague at 11.30pm on Thursday night.
While it is unclear exactly what happened or what was being targeted in the burglary, PC Harper was injured on a lane just off the A4 Bath Road between Reading and Newbury – a crossroads next to the 12-bedroom Braeburn Lodge care home.
At an emotional press conference, Chief Constable John Campbell said officers were working ‘hard and diligently to find out what happened’. He said: ‘What we do know is Andrew had been dragged along by a vehicle’, adding that all ten suspects had been arrested within an hour of the incident.
PC Harper is pictured with his mother Deborah. He has been praised by his relatives
PC Harper had married his fiancee Lissie Harper just a month ago and were starting a new life together as a married couple
The adventurous couple, shown here taking a selfie as on a river on an exotic holiday, were due to go on honeymoon imminently
A resident in nearby Burghfield said a police helicopter hovered over a travellers’ site from midnight until about 4am yesterday.
PC Harper married Lissie, also 28, in Oxfordshire on July 18 in the grounds of Ardington House, a listed stately home built in 1720.
Mrs Harper posted wedding pictures online and said the couple ‘could not have asked for more’. She added: ‘The sun was shining and the venue was incredible.’
PC Harper’s uncle Dale Shrimpton, 56, said: ‘We are devastated. He was the loveliest person that you will ever meet. I can’t begin to tell you how we feel. We all loved him very much. He didn’t have a bad bone in his body.’
The couple’s family spoke with great pride about the bravery he had shown as his life was taken in the line of duty
The couple married at the luxurious location of Ardington House in Oxfordshire last month
A police investigator at the scene of the incident after the officer was killed in Sulhamstead
Met Chief Superintendent Sally Benatar wrote on Twitter: ‘So sad to read this. PC Harper was the officer in the case when my then husband was arrested for domestic violence in 2016. He was on Thames Valley Response then.
‘He was brilliant and gave me the courage to take steps to change my life. I can’t thank him enough. He was a top officer.’
PC Harper’s death comes after PC Stuart Outten was stabbed in the head in Leyton, east London, on August 8. Days later a 42-year-old West Midlands Police officer suffered serious injuries when he was run over with his own vehicle.
Mr Johnson said: ‘The murder of PC Andrew Harper is a mindless and brutal crime and obviously all our thoughts are with his family, his friends and his colleagues.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he was ‘deeply shocked and appalled’ by the death of PC Harper, adding that his thought’s were with his family, friends and colleagues
‘It is the most powerful reminder that police officers up and down the country put themselves at risk every single day to keep us safe,’ he said
‘When I think of the bravery that PC Andrew Harper showed in intercepting those criminals, I think of the risks that the police run every day to keep us safe.’
He added: ‘This is a very rare occurrence, it is an absolute tragedy that a police officer should lose his life in the course of his duties and of course we will do everything we can to keep our officers safe.’
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the death highlighted the need for a boost to police numbers. He added: ‘Let’s just think for a moment of the horror of it, but also for the need for more police officers to be able to respond to disorder in our society.’
Home affairs committee chairman Yvette Cooper said: ‘Police officers like PC Harper demonstrate extraordinary bravery every day, and his death is a tragic reminder of the immense sacrifices made to keep us safe.’
‘Stay with me…keep breathing’: Colleague reveals he desperately tried to save murdered PC, 28, who was ‘dragged to his death’ by car at scene of burglary
By Jemma Buckley, Michael Bedigan and Andy Dolan for the Daily Mail and Henry Martin for MailOnline
A colleague of the newlywed police officer who was killed while responding to reports of a burglary begged the fallen officer to ‘stay with me, keep breathing’ as he lay dying in a country lane.
A witness told of the heartbreaking scenes as fellow officers fought to save PC Andrew Harper, 28, after he was mown down by a ‘getaway car’ on Thursday night, just four weeks after he married his fiancée Lissie.
The householder, who asked not to be named, came out of his home at around 11.30pm on Thursday after hearing a commotion in a lane off the A4 near Reading.
As police worked inside forensic tents near the property yesterday, the witness said: ‘When I came outside I could see one patrol car facing the A4 and the other facing in the other direction. The officer’s crewmate was shouting, saying ‘Stay with me, stay with me. Keep breathing.’ Those words will stay with me.
‘He was crouched over the officer’s body, which was lying on the lane.
Pictured: Police officers at a travellers’ camp near the scene where PC Harper was killed
‘Ambulances and more police cars arrived – it was like the Blackpool illuminations. I went out into the lane to see if the police needed any help and an officer turned to me and said: ‘Leave the area – this is a crime scene.’
Asked if there was a police pursuit in the run-up to PC Harper being hit by the vehicle, Thames Valley Police Chief Constable John Campbell said only that his fallen officer had been involved in a ‘response to a reported burglary’.
The senior officer said PC Harper was a ‘highly regarded, popular member of the team’ who was known across the force.
He said the traffic officer – based at Abingdon, Oxfordshire, around 30 miles from where the incident happened – had been outside his marked patrol car when he was ‘dragged along by a vehicle’, in what was ‘obviously a very distressing’ incident for the colleagues who witnessed it.
Mr Campbell said it had been ‘an extremely dark day’ for his force – and said the fact PC Harper had only been married four weeks added to the force’s ‘angst’ and to that of PC Harper’s family.
He declined to say whether the vehicle which hit PC Harper, who joined the force as a special constable in 2010 and became a police officer a year later, was stolen.
Police remained at the scene today, which was still cordoned off while evidence was gathered (pictured: PC Harper with a friend)
The force’s flags were flying at half-mast as a sign of respect ‘in honour and memory of Andrew’, he said, adding: ‘The officer was well-known across the force so it is felt very personally… by the whole police family.’
The incident took place at the crossroads of Ufton Lane and Lambdens Hill, near the village of Sulhamstead – close to Bucklebury where the Duchess of Cambridge’s parents Carole and Michael Middleton live.
Society has ‘less fear of the police’, officer says after machete attack
The boss of the officer stabbed by a machete said last week that people in modern day society have ‘less fear of the police’.
Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Tucker on Good Morning Britain last week
Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Tucker is head of the unit including Stuart Otten, who was attacked last Thursday in Leyton, East London.
He said that the attack which shocked the nation was a ‘symptom of people having less fear of the police’.
Mr Tucker added: ‘It’s shocking, but unfortunately it’s not uncommon. I’ve been in police for a long time — there’s certainly a sense of a lack of respect, not just for police but for authority.’
Andy Fiddler, from the Thames Valley Police Federation, added: ‘This is totally devastating news.
‘All our thoughts – and the thoughts of the entire police family across the UK – are with the family, friends and close colleagues of PC Andrew Harper.’
Last night, Anthony Stansfeld, Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner, said: ‘I speak for everybody at Thames Valley Police when I say that I am deeply shocked and saddened by the death of PC Andrew Harper while on duty. He was a young officer, only recently married, and looking forward to a long and successful career.
‘Today, assaults on police officers have become far too common. I am concerned that attacks on police officers are no longer regarded within some communities with the same level of seriousness as they were previously.
‘In the past, most criminals were careful not to attack a police officer. But as sentences across the board have become more lenient, so the number of assaults increased. There would seem to be a clear correlation.
‘The tragic death of PC Harper is a wake up call for our criminal justice system. That it happened is a sad reflection on society today.
‘The majority of the public are law-abiding, but we have a small hardcore who cause a totally disproportionate amount of crime. I hope that this can now be addressed.
‘It is not as if this problem has come as a surprise. It must now be dealt with.’
The Independent Office for Police Conduct said it had been made aware of the officer’s death, due to possible issues around a police pursuit, but is not investigating.
‘Life is slippery…take my hand’: The poignant wedding day message between widow and murdered police officer, 28, is revealed after he was dragged under a vehicle to his death at scene of burglary just four weeks later
By Jack Elsom, Mark Duell and Martin Robinson for MailOnline
The recently married police officer who was murdered on a call-out gave his bride a heart-melting message as the couple prepared to begin a life together, it has been revealed.
PC Andrew Harper, 28, sent his love Lissie Beckett a touching card which read ‘Life is slippery. Here, take my hand’ on their wedding day just four weeks ago.
But just days before the newlyweds were due to go on their honeymoon, the officer was tragically killed last night in Sulhamstead, Berkshire.
He was allegedly struck by a car and dragged under it for a distance, before being hit by another vehicle.
The tragic officer gave his bride a touching card which read ‘Life is slippery. Here, take my hand’ on their wedding day just four weeks ago
Police at the scene as a man lays a bunch of flowers near where the officer was killed
PC Harper’s death has sparked an outpouring of affection with relatives saying they were left ‘devastated’ by his death but added that they were ‘so proud of him’.
Chief Constable John Campbell said PC Harper was at the scene with a fellow officer and was out of his police car when the incident occurred, adding: ‘What we do know is Andrew had been dragged along by a vehicle.’
He said the suspects were detained within about an hour of the incident and officers are working ‘hard and diligently to find out what happened’.
A post-mortem examination is taking place to establish the cause of death.
Thames Valley Police Chief Constable John Campbell said PC Harper had been dragged along by a vehicle, adding that it was a ‘terrible day’ for the force.
Police officers at the scene on the crossroads of Ufton Lane and Lambdens Hill in Sulhamstead
Britain’s bravest bobby: Family’s pride in stabbed PC who was knifed with a foot-long blade in London
PC Stuart Outten attacked with a machete in East London last week after stopping a van driver suspected of traffic offences
The family of the heroic policeman who survived a savage machete onslaught said they are ‘incredibly proud’ of the bravery he showed.
PC Stuart Outten was knifed with a foot-long blade last week after pulling over a van driver suspected of having no insurance.
The 28-year-old’s family said his injuries could have been fatal after he suffered four deep cuts to his head and neck.
Despite bleeding profusely, the officer managed to incapacitate his attacker with a Taser stun gun and then call for an ambulance on his radio.
Mobile phone footage has emerged which shows him bent over in the road while a passer-by tells him he is bleeding, to which PC Outten sighed and replied: ‘Oh, yeah.’
His heroism led many to brand PC Outten as ‘the hardest bobby in Britain’.
He was rushed to hospital in a critical condition following the attack in Leyton, East London, shortly after midnight on Thursday morning of last week.
Astonishingly, he was discharged from hospital at about 2pm the next day – just 38 hours after the attack. Wounds on his left cheek, both temples and on the back of his head were stitched up.
He underwent surgery to re-attach tendons in his thumb, which was almost chopped off during the attack.
The man accused of attacking PC Outten appeared in court last week charged with attempted murder. Muhammad Rodwan, from Luton, is also charged with possession of an offensive weapon.
Deputy District Judge Adrian Turner remanded Rodwan in custody at Thames Magistrates’ Court until his next appearance at the Old Bailey on September 6.