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Hertfordshire Police Federation

Federation accuses Government of dereliction of duty over officer jabs

9 February 2021

All 43 branches of the Police Federation have come together to accuse the Governments of England and Wales of a dereliction of duty after health secretary Matt Hancock revealed at last night’s press briefing that police officers would only be considered for prioritisation for the Covid jab once the first phase of the roll-out programme was completed.

This will mean officers will only get called up for the vaccine according to their age group, leaving many frontline officers without the protect afforded by the jab for months.

“As a Federation, we fully accepted the initial stages of the vaccine roll-out with the elderly and clinically vulnerable given No 1 priority with frontline NHS staff and those working in care homes,” says Geoff Bardell, chair of Hertfordshire Police Federation.

“However, while police officers are on the frontline, protecting the public, maintaining essential policing services, fighting and preventing crime, they are putting their own health on the line. They risk contracting coronavirus, passing it onto their families and possibly spreading it as they go from job to job as part of their daily duties. Added to this, they are being subjected to vile attacks by individuals spitting or coughing over them while claiming to have Covid.

“We also have to consider that the police workforce is being depleted by officers contracting the virus or having to isolate because they have been in touch with someone with Covid and that is having an impact on operational resilience.

“I think the Government needs to reconsider its stance on this issue and do more to ensure that police officers are prioritised for the jab.”

The open letter, which is signed by branch chairs and national Federation chair, John Apter, says: “The health secretary could not even offer a guarantee beyond the first phase, only that frontline officers will be ‘considered’ for vaccination in the next phase. This is not only unacceptable to our members, it is also a dereliction of both Governments’ duties. It shows that warm words and platitudes mean very little.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel has publicly called for frontline policing officers and staff to receive some priority in the vaccination programme but it is the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) that makes the final decision.

The Police Federation of England and Wales letter quotes the JCVI guidance, however, which is that ‘frontline health and social care workers at high risk of acquiring infection, at high individual risk of developing serious disease, or at risk of transmitting infection to multiple vulnerable persons or other staff in a healthcare environment, are considered of higher priority for vaccination than those at lower risk’.

The letter goes on: “The risks presented to our members show that this guidance applies to them. The nature of policing means our members are not always able to mitigate the risk of contracting and spreading this deadly virus. They often have to get up close and personal in many situations, which means the risk is ever present.

“One in three officers have reported being threatened by somebody claiming to have Covid. The level of incidents of people weaponising the virus – by coughing or spitting at them – has increased considerably during the pandemic. On behalf of Government, police officers are putting their lives on the line every day and run a very real risk of becoming infected and exposing colleagues, family members as well as the public.

“Thanks to the success and speed of the vaccination programme we know it would take less than a day to vaccinate the entire police service in England and Wales if the political will is there to do it.”

 

 

 

 

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