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Devon & Cornwall Police Federation

Devon and Cornwall Police Federation call for officers to be added to Covid vaccine priority list

4 January 2021

Devon and Cornwall Police officers should be among those key workers in the queue for the COVID-19 vaccine so they can continue to protect the public, their Federation has said.

Whilst “frontline health and social care workers” are second in the Government’s published priority list for the vaccine roll-out, police officers do not feature at all on the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

Devon and Cornwall Police Federation Chairman Andy Berry said it was not about policing pushing ahead of NHS workers or vulnerable people but about keeping officers protected so they can carry on keeping their communities safe.

“I absolutely understand the need to medically prioritise the elderly and vulnerable with vaccinations,” Andy said, “but equally it must be a national priority to ensure that the police force remains effective, particularly now as we see the new COVID variant rampaging across the country.”

“Many officers across Devon and Cornwall do not have the option of working from home, or within a COVID secure office.

“They are out every day engaging with the public; they have to enter people’s houses and other public places to do their job.

“They often have to get up very close to some people which can be due to them being a victim, witness, offender or a vulnerable person needing our help.”

Andy added: “My members do not always have the choice to keep distant, and this puts them at risk of infection.

“It’s not just their own health officers have to worry about either. While they may be fit and healthy and unaffected by infection, officers will all have loved ones and will not want to take the virus home.

“The public expects police officers to put themselves in harm’s way and I believe that it is only fair to expect that these same frontline officers get prioritised for vaccination – it’s only fair and should just be part of the deal.”

The Police Federation of England and Wales is also now stepping up its campaign to get officers vaccinated as a priority. It says fears remain that officers who spend so much of their time dealing directly with the public could become disease spreaders and put their lives and the lives of their families at risk.

Chairman John Apter said: “This is certainly not about jumping the queue in front of the most vulnerable members of society or those on the NHS frontline.

“It’s about ensuring policing is resilient enough to cope with the demands of the pandemic and that my colleagues can continue to support the public during these exceptional times.”

He added: “If we expect police officers to continue to police in the way that we do, then it’s essential they are given the protection they deserve.”

According to the Government, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation “does not advise further prioritisation by occupation during the first phase of the [Vaccination] programme.”

It adds: “Occupational prioritisation could form part of a second phase of the programme, which would include healthy individuals from 16 years of age up to 50 years of age, subject to consideration of the latest data on vaccine safety and effectiveness.”