90 days from today is Thu, 28 December 2023
10 February 2021
“We can’t police from two metres away… We need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 so that we can continue to carry out the job that the Government and our public expect us to do”
GMP Federation Health and Safety Lead Phil Thomasson outlines why police officers should be given a level of priority for the Covid-19 vaccine – and urges Prime Minister Boris Johnson to make it happen.
Phil said: “Hazards are common within every workplace, and it would be fair to say that Police Officers routinely face far more hazards on a daily basis than the average worker.
“A combination of training and protective equipment such as stab vests, batons, Taser and irritant spray will generally help to reduce the risks faced by Police Officers, but it doesn’t eliminate the risk. Police Officers get injured and assaulted regularly, and Covid-19 has really ‘turned the screw’.
“On a daily basis, GMP officers continue to deal with the enormous volume of routine incidents that they would always deal with, not knowing who may or may not be carrying this virus.
“Police Officers are dealing with Covid-19 related deaths in the community, they are attending ‘hot zones’ in hospitals, they are breaking up COVID ‘parties’, they are policing various protests, they are wrestling with Covid-19 positive offenders and then dealing with those offenders who choose to cough at, spit at and bite Police Officers, using this awful disease as a weapon.
“Police Officers do not have the luxury of being able to socially distance themselves from many of the people they deal with every day. They are provided with PPE including face masks, eye protection, gloves and aprons, but that PPE becomes useless when the officer is rolling around on the floor with someone who doesn’t want to be arrested. Without the vaccine, it is inevitable that officers will succumb to this virus.
“Police Officers are human beings doing an extraordinary job in unprecedented circumstances. They should not have to expect that, by coming to work, their life is at risk, yet we have very sadly seen some of our colleagues becoming seriously ill and dying from Covid-19.
“Many officers have vulnerable family members at home, some of whom are shielding. The officers go home to their families each night, and they shoulder the constant stress and anxiety that they might take the virus home with some really serious consequences.
“The Police are the only organisation that can enforce the Coronavirus legislation to keep this virus under control and to keep the public safe. Officers need the vaccine to ensure they can continue to perform their vital role.
“Especially in light of the new strains, the abstraction rate in the Police service is increasing. One officer testing positive might result in an entire team having to isolate. This leads to longer hours and cancelled rest days, putting huge [avoidable] pressure on their colleagues who have to plug the gap. It has a detrimental impact on the physical and mental health of those officers that remain, and of course, the level of service that policing is able provide its communities.
“Despite the Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s obtuse view on the subject, we have had some high-level support for vaccine prioritisation from the Home Secretary Priti Patel and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick. On 20th January, during PMQs, the Prime Minister stated that Police Officers and other key workers should be vaccinated as soon as possible.
“I would urge the Prime Minister to convert those words into actions by ensuring that Police Officers are prioritised for the vaccine. We want to be vaccinated so that we can continue to carry out the job that the Government and our public expect us to do. We don’t need words of encouragement. We need positive action”.