31 December 2020
Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton has welcomed calls for police officers to be given priority access to Covid vaccines.
National Federation chair John Apter has called on the Prime Minister to ‘do the right thing’ and ensure officers are given the protection they deserve.
He has written to Martin Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), calling for new and urgent representations to be made to the Government on officers’ behalf.
“It’s time for the Prime Minister to do the right thing for police officers in the thick of this pandemic. I am calling on him to back my colleagues in their time of need as more are absent from work after contracting the virus or having to self-isolate,” John wrote.
“We’ve lobbied the NPCC which has raised this directly with Government. Despite positive responses, no formal decision has been made, and we now need immediate Government action. That’s why the Prime Minister must make a decision - does he support police officers being prioritised for the Covid vaccine or not?
“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 explained that, due to the nature of their role, officers often could not avoid working in close contact with members of the public, creating a risk for them, their families and the public.
“Officers could be carrying the virus but non-symptomatic and therefore, by the nature of their role, risk being super-spreaders. We don’t want officers to inadvertently, and unknowingly, spread the infection as they go about their day to day duties because officers have no choice but to interact with the public when dealing with calls that come in and it is often with the most vulnerable people. This contact places the public at greater risk of infection, as well as being an organisational risk for the police service,” John continued.
“We know that the number of officers who are contracting the virus or are having to self-isolate is increasing, which creates a resilience issue for policing. There is a strong argument that police officers must be prioritised to receive this vaccine as this will not only protect them and their families but the general public too.”
Tony backed the national chair’s comments, saying: “The Government should give officers priority access to the vaccines and should do this as soon as possible. We all accept that the most vulnerable people in our communities and those working on the frontline in the NHS should be the first priority.
“But police officers need to be given a higher priority than they currently have. With increasing numbers of officers contracting Covid or having to self-isolate due to contact with those who do have the virus, resilience issues are becoming more and more likely. Officers need protection from the virus themselves but the vaccine could also help prevent them inadvertently spreading it while out serving their communities.”