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PFEW: “Life must mean life for police officer killers”

2014 Police Federation Conference, Bournemouth, Dorset, Jason Bye, 21/05/14The Police Federation of England and Wales has written to the Home Secretary calling for “assurance” that the “life means life” law change for police officer killers will come “urgently”.

There remains widespread anger among police officers and the public after it emerged police killer Harry Roberts has been released from prison. The letter from Federation Chairman Steve White (pictured) to Theresa May explained that many police officers feel badly let down by Roberts’ release.

Mr White said: “While Harry Roberts may have served 48 years in prison, we must not lose sight that he was involved in the brutal murder of three unarmed police officers; their families have been condemned to a life sentence without their loved ones.

“The public outcry also demonstrates the strength of feeling among the law-abiding British public who understand that police officers put themselves in dangerous positions to protect their communities, but rightly expect the backing of the law and criminal justice system in doing so.”

Mr White also said that the Home Secretary should know personally from recent events, such as National Police Memorial Day and the Police Bravery Awards, that police officers charged with protecting the public frequently face extremely dangerous and life threatening situations.

At PFEW’s annual conference in May 2013, the Home Secretary pledged to change the law so that anyone convicted of killing a police officer would receive a life sentence without parole.

When news broke about Harry Robert’s imminent release the Home Secretary reiterated that position, saying: “I strongly believe that anyone who murders a police officer belongs behind bars for life. That is why I have made sure the Government will change the law so life will mean life for anyone who murders a police officer.”

Mr White said: “The news about Harry Roberts’ release clearly demonstrates the need for urgent legislative change to ensure those convicted of killing police officers do remain in prison for their whole life.”

Within his letter, Chair Steve White requested assurance from the Home Secretary that this matter would be a priority for her and her government.  “This legislative change must happen as a matter of urgency if police officers and their families are to have peace of mind that they are supported by the criminal justice system.”

Roberts, now 78, was jailed for life for murdering three unarmed officers in Shepherd’s Bush, west London, in 1966. The police officers were shot when they approached a van containing Roberts and two other gang members, John Duddy and John Witney, following an armed robbery.

Sgt Christopher Head, 30, and 25-year-old Det Con David Wombwell were shot by Roberts, while PC Geoffrey Fox, 41, was killed by Duddy.

You can see the full letter here from Steve White here

Date posted: November 19, 2014

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