9 February 2021
Police Officers have reacted with fury to the Government’s “shameful” and “perverse” decision not to provide a level of vaccine priority for the country’s Cops.
Paul Williams, Chair of Cumbria Police Federation, said: “I would like Health Secretary Matt Hancock to look the poor families in the eye of cops who have lost their lives from Covid having contracted it on duty and tell them why we don’t matter enough.”
Mr Hancock told police officers last night in no uncertain terms that they will have to wait their turn to receive the Covid-19 vaccine - and that they will not be prioritised. He told a press conference that officers will not be vaccinated until after groups 1-9, as deemed by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which means they will have to wait for 32 million others to get the jab first.
Paul said: “For many weeks we have been campaigning locally and nationally to have some acknowledgement of the hard work and increasing dangers our members face on a daily basis in relation to this killer virus. The Government have sat there nodding and agreeing with us and saying ‘we hear you’.
“Then out of the hat they pull yet another shameful and perverse decision on top of freezing our pay yet again. What a way to promote and retain uplift in numbers by expectation that we go out every day, put the lives of ourselves and our families at risk without acknowledgement and deserved recognition for what we do.
“The numbers of vaccines required to be administered to every police officer is a drop in the ocean and could be done very quickly and Matt Hancock’s words have provoked instantaneous reaction nationally.”
The Government decision to not prioritise police officers has come despite lobbying from the Police Federation, Chief Police Officers, the Met Commissioner and the College of Policing. And Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last month that police officers should be vaccinated “as soon as possible”, whilst Home Secretary Priti Patel told policing to “get ready” for officers to receive the vaccine.
Paul added: “My question for the Government is when are you going to stop talking the talk and start giving our members what they deserve and need? For many months there has been a combined recognition of the NHS’ fantastic efforts by applause. This announcement calls for a slow clap to recognise the true colours behind the words of the Government.”
Mr Hancock told the press conference: “We have ensured, through the clinical advice that we’ve taken, that the vaccine rollout goes through those who are most at risk first. So any police officer who is aged over 50 will be part of the initial rollout through the current groups down to what I call the JCVI cohorts 1-9, from the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations which advises us on the clinical basis for the order.
“After that we will then look at what order we go next and we’ll consider, for instance, questions of people who are in professions where you might have to be in contact with more people and the impact of the vaccine on transmission and make a decision and publicise it as soon as we’ve made that decision.
“No decision has yet been made in what order we’ll go after the JCVI cohorts 1-9 but we’re looking very closely, including at where police officers should be in that order.”