8 February 2021
The home secretary says she’s pressing the Prime Minister and health secretary to give police officers priority access to coronavirus vaccines in the next phase of the roll-out programme.
Priti Patel says she’s also working with the National Police Coordination Centre (NPoCC) to ensure “top priority roles” within policing have access to Covid-19 testing.
Ms Patel was responding to a letter signed by representatives right across Derbyshire Police – including Federation branch chair Tony Wetton – which called for the Government to consider issuing frontline officers and staff with the Covid-19 vaccination as a priority.
The letter also called for regular workplace testing of asymptomatic officers and staff to ensure frontline resilience.
It was also signed by the Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa, Chief Constable Rachel Swann, Chief Superintendent David Cox, who is secretary of the Derbyshire branch of the Police Superintendents’ Association, and Marie Davey, secretary of the Derbyshire branch of UNISON.
Responding to the letter, the home secretary said: “I recognise the important and selfless role police officers in Derbyshire, along with all police officers across the country, are again being asked to provide at this time.
“Keeping all officers safe in these unprecedented and challenging times is one of my absolute priorities.
“I understand the aspiration that both access to vaccines and regular workplace testing for police officers and this would support the continued resilience and wellbeing of Derbyshire Police and the wider police service.
“For the first phase of the vaccine roll-out, the Government is rightly prioritising the elderly and clinically vulnerable, alongside frontline healthcare workers.
“This is in line with the guidance published by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advised that the first phase must focus on tackling those at greatest risk of mortality and the protection of frontline health and social care staff who care for them.”
Ms Patel added: “The JCVI has been clear that vaccination of those at increased risk of exposure to Covid-19 due to their occupation are likely to be considered a priority during the second phase.
“I fully recognise that the important face-to-face role performed by the police will mean that they are at increased risk of exposure to the virus as they carry out their duties.
“I have raised the issue with the Prime Minister and the health secretary, and I will continue to press for priority access to the vaccines for police officers in the next phase of the vaccine programme when the JCVI considers occupations for prioritisation to the vaccine.
“On regular workplace testing, my officials continue to work closely with the NPoCC and the Department for Health and Social Care to ensure top priority roles in the police service, and forces with high absence rates, have access to testing solutions.”