On Thursday PC Andrew Harper, 28, was killed while responding to a report of a burglary after he was dragged along the road by a vehicle. In the wake of his death, Police have begun a murder investigation and ten people, aged between 13 and 30, have been arrested and are being questioned by police. Searches and investigation have been taking place on the road where PC Harper died, the A4 Bath Road near the village of Sulhamstead with forensic officers seen combing the area. Today, investigations have been underway at Four Houses Caravan Site, a site described on the West Berkshire Council website as a traveller site that is run by the local authority, and located very close to the scene of PC Harper’s death.
Thames Valley Police Chief Constable John Campbell said that PC Harper, a roads policing officer was responding to reports of a burglary at around 11:30pm. He said that it was a “terrible day” for the force and that he was “shocked and saddened”. PC Harper had become a volunteer Special Constable in 2010 and became a regular officer in 2011. He had been married only four weeks and was planning his honeymoon. Chief Constable Campbell said that his thoughts were with PC Harper’s friends and family and that they were being supported by specially trained officers.
The Prime Minister described it as a “mindless and brutal” crime and that the incident showed the “risks that the police run everyday to keep us safe”. The police federation said the shocking news as quite simply “devastating”.
The incident comes against the background of an increase in violent crime across the UK and a series of attacks against police officers. On the 8th August, Met Police officer Stuart Outten was stabbed in the head and days later a police officer with West Midland police was suffered serious injuries, including injuries to his head after being run over by his own vehicle.
Police Federation chairman John Apter said that 10 officers had died in the line of duty in as many years and that such figures were “truly shocking”. He echoed what some police officers have been saying for a while in that the cut of 22,000 police officers had led to the job being more dangerous than it was 10 years ago. The BBC spoke to a serving officer to discuss life on the front line and the violence that officers face day-to-day.
With ten people in custody, the police said it would be inappropriate to comment further on the investigation but urged anyone with information to contact them by dialling 101, the Thames Valley Police Website, or the anonymous and independent charity CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.
The investigation continues.