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Families of Police Officers

Volume 671: debated on Monday 10 February 2020

It is often forgotten or taken for granted by many that behind every police officer stands a proud but anxious family. We want to recognise their bravery, commitment and sacrifice by introducing the police covenant. The covenant will be brought forward through the police powers and protections Bill, placing it on a statutory footing and ensuring that Parliament can scrutinise its progress. We will launch a consultation on the principle and scope of the covenant in the coming weeks.

What steps are Ministers taking to ensure that families who lose a loved one in the line of duty—such as the family of PC Andrew Harper, who was tragically killed last year—receive the support they need?

My hon. Friend raises an extremely important point. The death of Andrew Harper last year on the very edge of my constituency was a terrible and tragic event. She will know that there are already measures in place to assist families in that position, not least the police injury benefits scheme, as well as welfare support offered by particular forces and the Police Federation. But there is always more we can do, and we would welcome submissions to the consultation on the covenant, to address any gaps that may exist.

One thing that families would quite like to see is prosecuting authorities and the police themselves taking it much more seriously when there are assaults on police officers, even if they are relatively minor ones. Otherwise, there seems to be a sort of acceptance that a degree of violence is in the day job of a police officer, and that must surely be wrong. Why is the legislation introduced two years ago still not being used effectively by the Crown Prosecution Service?

The hon. Gentleman raises an extremely important point. As I have said in this House before, it is my view that anybody who raises a malevolent finger against any emergency service should face the full weight of the law. He is right that there is general concern about the increasing number of attacks on emergency service workers of all types, and we will review what steps need to be taken in the near future to sort that out.