Police killers ‘will go to jail for the rest of their lives’

Those convicted of murdering police officers should go to jail for the rest of their life, the home secretary said today.

Theresa May will use a speech at the Police Federation conference to say she plans to increase the penalty for murdering an officer from its current starting point of 30 years to the whole of the killer's natural life.

"To attack and kill a police officer is to attack the fundamental basis of our society," she said.

"We ask police officers to keep us safe by confronting and stopping violent criminals for us. We ask them to take risks so that we don't have to.

"That is why I am clear that life should mean life for anyone convicted of killing a police officer."

The comment comes after the murder of PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes in Manchester last year. Twelve police officers have been killed on duty since 2000.

Steve Williams, chairman of the Police Federation, said: "There is no hierarchy when it comes to victims of murder.

"However, police officers risk their lives on a daily basis, confronting danger on behalf of others.

"Would-be offenders must know that they will receive the most severe penalty possible."

May's tough stance may be a result of her desire to avoid the heckling and abuse she received last year at the Police Federation conference.

This year she won a warmer reception, with delegates clapping politely as she came onstage.

With rank-and-file officers outraged by police reforms, including fast-track recruitment and a cut to annual pay for new police constables, the home secretary typically gets a frosty reception when she addresses the hall.

Organisers went out of their way to prevent a recurrence of the abuse this year.

Williams asked delegates to treat the home secretary respectfully yesterday and admitted May will have prior knowledge of the questions she will be asked in the Q&A.