PC killed in action 'will make other officers worry about safety'

18 August 2019, 00:33 | Updated: 18 August 2019, 15:28

The death of PC Andrew Harper will make police officers across the country worry for their own safety, a former chief constable has told Sky News.

Sir Peter Fahy, who used to command Greater Manchester Police, said the killing would send ripples through forces and make people feel more vulnerable.

He said the 28-year-old newlywed Thames Valley officer's family would get "a huge amount of support" but that over time that will "inevitably dissipate" and leave them with a "huge pain".

The news of PC Harper's death reminded him of two police officers - Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes - who were killed during his time steering GMP, Sir Peter explained.

"It did make me think about the tragic deaths of Fiona and Nicola - although it's fair to say they're in my thoughts regularly," he said..

"In that situation, you think about their colleagues that have been serving with them, but you do think about the family.

"Because with the death of Fiona and Nicola in Greater Manchester, I got to know two amazing families and I continue to meet them and know the huge impact that continues to have.

"It is really because police officers represent all of us."

He added PC Harper's death would "affect all police officers in the country".

"Officers always have it in the back of their mind that they do a risky job," Sir Peter said.

"But when an officer loses their life, when a colleague loses their life, it clearly shocks them and makes them think again about their own vulnerability."

PC Harper died after being dragged along the road by a vehicle in Sulhamstead village, Berkshire, at around 11:30pm on Thursday.

Ten suspects between 13 and 30 were arrested shortly after at a council-run caravan and mobile home site nearby.

Police were granted extra time to keep them in custody for questioning but the deadline is expected to expire overnight.

Home Secretary Priti Patel responded by calling for a "crackdown" on police assaults, saying courts must "do more" to make sure the law, which can carry up to a life sentence, works as a deterrent.

"If we are to defeat this epidemic and reverse the deeply worrying trend of rising violence, then we must look at the criminal justice system as a whole," she said, writing in The Sunday Telegraph.

"Alongside our support for the police, we will ensure sentences are as tough as they can be."

Ms Patel said PC Harper "is a hero" and the "very best of British policing", who showed "extraordinary" bravery in the moments before his death.

He was a member of the Roads Policing Proactive Unit based at Abingdon police station and was due to enjoy his honeymoon with wife Lissie next week.

Earlier, PC Harper's father Philip told Sky News that the family is "devastated", adding: "We're in a bad place".

One message on flowers left at the scene said: "Harps, I am truly gutted. A great cop, a great man, a great friend.

"There will always be a part of my heart missing now. RIP mate, love you. Chef, Sarah and Harry."

Another said: "Such a shocking, mindless, horrific act of brutality. This has been impossible for us to get our heads around. PC Harper was a beautiful young soul. A brave man protecting us all and just doing his job."

PC Harper had been raising money for the charity Children With Cancer UK, planning to compete in the 20-mile, 200 obstacle Dirty Weekend race in Peterborough in May next year.

He had hoped to raise £500 via his page on the Virgin Money Giving site - but a surge in donations over the past few days has seen the total pass £16,000.

The 28-year-old wrote that he had "never been much of a runner", but added: "Even if only one child benefits then it will be well and truly worth it."

Also, a Just Giving page set up by police for PC Harper's family has raised more than £63,000.

It reads: "Police officers all over Thames Valley and the rest of the UK go to work each and every day to do their duty.

"We are courageous, caring and compassionate. We confront danger on a daily basis. We know there is a risk when we put on the uniform but we do so as we are proud to protect the public.

"Sadly on very rare and horrendous occasions a colleague makes the ultimate sacrifice. We will ensure that heroism is never forgotten. All our thoughts remain with Andrew's wife, family, friends and close colleagues."