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I Support Any Move To Protect Britain's Police Officers

16/05/2013 11:53 BST | Updated 16/07/2013 10:12 BST

I would wholeheartedly support any move to ensure that the murderers of police officers spend the rest of their lives in prison.

But before I examine that issue more closely, I would like to make one thing clear: there should be no 'hierarchy' when it comes to the victims of murder and I am not suggesting that a police officer's life is more or less valuable than that of any other individual.

I hope that the Home Secretary's announcement will open up a wider debate around current sentencing guidelines. The public needs and deserves an open and transparent system of sentencing; they are currently hoodwinked into thinking a sentence is what it says on the tin yet the majority of offenders serve around half of their sentences in custody before being released on licence.

Police officers are sometimes accused of being self-interested but few care more about justice for victims and families than the officers who put their own safety on the line to ensure that offenders are brought to justice.

And justice is not restricted to being arrested and charged - it means being given a punishment that befits the crime and goes as far as possible to ensure that they do not reoffend in the future.

It is of little consolation to the victims of crime and their families when they see individuals go on to reoffend against others, having served the sentence previously seen fit by the system.

We want as much closure as possible for all victims of crime, whether they be police officers or members of the public.

Consultation with victims of crime and their families should always play a key role in determining what sentence is given.

With regards to murder, life should mean life. While it is not my belief that police officers should be treated any differently from members of the public, I think it is only right that the government recognises the significant risks that officers are facing every day. This danger was highlighted only too tragically last year, with the cold-hearted murders of Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes, the two Greater Manchester officers who gave their lives while serving their communities.

They were not the only officers to have been murdered in the last 12 months; father-of-two Ian Dibell was shot while trying to wrestle a weapon from a gunman last July.

All three of these officers, and many more before them, gave their lives trying to protect the public.

All police officers accept the risks of the job from day one but where other people may run away from danger, their instinct is to run towards it, and this needs to be recognised by the government.

The very least the system can do for the families and legacy of those who have been murdered in service is ensure that those who are responsible are given a sentence that reflects the atrocity they have carried. It is also imperative that the sentence they are given is the one they serve.

Any move to push the life without parole for the murder of police officers into legislation is very welcome.

The announcement is extremely timely and we now need to discuss whether the balance is right between rehabilitation, punishment and deterrent. The police are the most visible part of the criminal justice system yet while we have no control over sentences, it us who the victims of crime and their families look to when they see an offender walk free from court or back onto the streets after serving half their sentence.

The government has a duty to ensure that there are far fewer unanswered questions in the future.