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Hampshire Police Federation

Police officers react with shock, fury and disbelief that prisoners will be vaccinated before police

25 February 2021

Police officers have reacted with 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.

Zoe Wakefield, Chair of Hampshire Police Federation, said: “I fully support prison officers being vaccinated alongside police officers but to put those who have assaulted, spat and bitten my colleagues ahead of us is an outrageous decision. 

“I would really like to see the rationale behind this decision by the JCVI… Is this really the value the Government places on its police officers and teachers?”

She added: “I understand some of the public have concerns about COVID outbreaks within prisons but there are many control measures that can be put in place. The public are more likely to come into contact with an unvaccinated police officer who has contracted the virus through their job, than any contact with an inmate in prison. 

“Police officers can be having contact with a violent COVID positive person and then an hour later be with a vulnerable member of the community. We want the vaccine to protect the public.” 

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