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Devon & Cornwall Police Federation

Police officers react with shock and fury to learn prisoners will be given vaccine priority, and not police

25 February 2021

Police officers have reacted with a mixture of shock, fury and disbelief to reports that prisoners will receive a vaccine against the deadly Covid-19 virus, ahead of those working in policing.

This could see a bizarre situation where a criminal who is jailed for coughing or spitting at a police officer - threatening to infect them with Covid-19 - will get a vaccine for the virus before the police officer they attacked.

According to the most recent Crown Prosecution Service data, assaults on emergency workers were 'most common coronavirus-related crime' between 1 April and 30 September 2020 with 1,688 offences charged.

Many of these involved police officers being coughed and spat on.

However according to a report in today’s Times newspaper, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said teachers, police and other key workers should not get priority for Covid jabs.

But that prisoners can be vaccinated en masse.

Andy Berry, Chair of Devon and Cornwall Police Federation, said: “That those who assault officers, spit at them and use Covid-19 as a threat are to be prioritised before them is just another slap in the face for cops. 

“We all understand that the JCVI are there to advise and their priority is in the reduction of deaths. But the Prime Minister shouldn’t hide behind advisors. He is there to listen to advice and then lead. 

“Our colleagues in the NHS and Social Care have rightly been prioritised but the Prime Minister is showing a monumental lack of understanding of the work of the police if he does not recognise the risk to officers.”

Andy added: “In June this year Mr Johnson will expect my members and other officers from around the country to protect him and his VIP Guests as he holds the G7 summit in Cornwall and yet he seems to care little for their welfare. 

“It’s time for the Prime Minister to stand up for what is right and Protect the Protectors after all at the current rate it would take less than a morning to vaccinate every cop in England and Wales and I don’t believe that the public would resent that tiny delay in the national roll out.”

Andy concluded: “We know that vaccination centres very often have spare capacity or vaccines which need to be used quickly before they go out of date - so I call on all of those running the vaccination programme to use that capacity now and start vaccinating police officers.”

Earlier in February, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told police officers they will have to wait their turn to receive the Covid-19 vaccine - and that they will not be prioritised.

Despite lobbying from the Police Federation, Chief Police Officers, the Met Commissioner and the College of Policing over police officers needing to have a level of priority for the vaccine to keep themselves, their families and the public safe, Mr Hancock said officers will not be prioritised until after groups 1-9, as deemed by the JCVI.

So, they will not be eligible for the vaccine until after the first 32 million people in the country have received it. And that is likely to be May. Officers who fall into the first 9 groups – via age or with underlying health conditions – will receive the vaccine that way.

Update: Prisoners will not jump queue for Covid vaccine, says Downing Street