LONDON—A 28-year-old police officer investigating a reported burglary in southeast England has died after being dragged by a vehicle, police said Friday.
Police have arrested and detained 10 males on suspicion of murder in the death of Andrew Harper, 28. The youngest is 13 while the oldest is 30.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “deeply shocked and appalled” by Harper’s death, and said his thoughts were with the officer’s family, friends and colleagues.
I am deeply shocked and appalled by the death of a brave officer on duty in Thames Valley last night.
My thoughts are with PC Harper’s family, friends and colleagues at this terrible time. (1/2)
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 16, 2019
“It is the most powerful reminder that police officers up and down the country put themselves at risk every single day to keep us safe,” Johnson said. “They have my absolute support.”
Thames Valley Police Chief Constable John Campbell said that although the cause of Harper’s death had not yet been confirmed, he had been “dragged along by a vehicle.”
“He was out of his police vehicle at the time,” he added.
Harper, with the Roads Policing Proactive Unit, was killed in Berkshire, in southeast England, at 11:30 p.m. Thursday. Campbell said it was a terrible day for the force.
“And to add further angst to what are terrible circumstances, Andrew was only married four weeks ago.”
Officers remained at the scene of the incident as forensic investigators took photographs of items on the road. Two white tents were also erected.
In the past decade, 10 officers have been killed in incidents involving criminal suspects in England. The most recent involved Police Constable Keith Palmer, who was stabbed in the 2017 attack on Westminster Bridge and Parliament, which was deemed terrorism-related.
Knife Crime Hits Record High in the UK
The knife crime epidemic plaguing England and Wales has hit a record high, new figures for the year ending in March 2019 show, with sharp instrument offenses up by 8 percent year on year.
The data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows there were 43,516 police-recorded offenses in the UK for the year ending in March 2019 involving a knife or sharp instrument.
Compared to 2014 figures—a low point in offenses committed using sharp instruments since records began in 2011—the new historic high represents an alarming 80 percent increase in knife crime.
Rural areas in Britain, meanwhile, have seen a 50 percent rise in knife crime year on year, while over the past four years the proportion of crimes solved in the UK overall has plummeted by half.
The March 2019 figures show only 7.8 percent of crimes result in a charge or summons, while four years ago that figure stood at 15 percent.
“The picture of crime is a complex one. Overall levels of crime have remained steady, but this is not the case for all types of crime,” said ONS’ Mark Bangs, via Sky News, adding that there were increases in “violent crimes involving knives and sharp instruments” and “fraud and overall theft.”
Policing minister Nick Hurd was cited by the Telegraph as saying, “We are deeply concerned that certain offences, including serious violence, have increased and we are taking urgent action.”
‘Knife Crime Crisis Continues Unabated’
Javed Khan, chief executive of Barnardo’s, Britain’s biggest children’s charity, was cited by the Telegraph as saying, “It’s unacceptable that the knife crime crisis continues unabated with offences at record levels.
“Children are not born with knives in their hands, knife crime is a symptom of a much bigger problem. Our frontline support services say vulnerable children and young people are being recruited and exploited by criminal gangs and forced to traffic drugs and carry knives.
“Urgent action must be taken so that future generations are not condemned to live in an endless spiral of violence.”
Epoch Times reporter Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.
By Danica Kirka