WEDDING PICTURE TO MAKE YOU WEEP
This PC was killed in the line of duty just four weeks after he wed. Could there be a crueller symbol of Wild West Britain?
FOUR weeks ago, PC Andrew Harper was posing for pictures on his wedding day.
He 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 – including a boy of 13 – have been arrested after what Prime Minister Boris Johnson described as a ‘mindless and brutal’ crime. 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.
A witness said he heard an officer yelling: ‘Stay with me, stay with me, keep breathing,’ as
PC Harper lay fatally injured in the road. The Times reported last night that the officer had been hit by a Seat van and dragged for some distance, and was then struck by a police vehicle responding to the incident.
Last night, two miles from the crime scene, police were searching a rundown 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.
Mr Johnson, who has pledged to hire another 20,000 police officers to get a grip of the problem, said he violent admitted was ‘shocked crime ‘we on are and our seeing streets’. appalled’ too much and
described PC Harper’s the devastated officer – a ‘highly family 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 breakin near the village of Sulhamstead with a colleague at 11.30pm on Thursday. PC Harper was injured on a lane just off the A4 Bath Road between crossroads Reading next to and the Newbury 12-bedroom – a 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. A resident in nearby Burghfield said a police helicopter hovered over a travellers’ site from midnight until about 4am yesterday. A man from Ufton Nervet, three miles from the murder scene, said the area was blighted by burglaries attributed to the camp. ‘As soon as I heard what had happened, I knew they were likely to be involved,’ he said.
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. He didn’t have a bad bone in his body.’
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-yearold 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.
‘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.’
Tragic death: PC Harper with Lissie on their wedding day
Search: Police at a travellers’ camp near the murder scene