90 days from today is Sat, 24 December 2022
26 February 2021
Hertfordshire Police Federation chair Geoff Bardell has accused the Government of betraying officers who have put their health, and that of their families, on the line while seeking to protect the communities they serve during the pandemic.
And Geoff criticised politicians for hiding behind the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which today announced that Phase 2 of the vaccine roll-out programme would be based around age with no professions being prioritised.
The first stage of the Covid vaccine programme saw care home residents and workers at the head of the queue followed by the over 80s and health and social workers before working through seven more age categories ending with those aged 50 to 55.
Stage 2, the JCVI has confirmed, will mean the jab is offered to three new age brackets – 40 to 49, 30 to 39 and then 20 to 29.
“As a Federation, we have campaigned for frontline police officers and staff to be prioritised as the roll-out programme has progressed,” said Geoff.
“We fully appreciated and acknowledged the need for the most vulnerable people in our societies, the elderly and vulnerable, and NHS and care staff who, of course, to be the Number 1 priorities.
“But we did expect the JCVI to give some consideration to frontline workers – including police officers and staff – being given some kind of priority as time went on.
“The Home Secretary appeared to be fighting our corner but it now all just appears to have been hollow words.
“Police officers have given their all during the pandemic, putting their lives on the line, and risking the health of their nearest and dearest, so that they can continue to serve their communities, fight and prevent crime, protect the vulnerable and keep the peace while also helping uphold lockdown restrictions that changed several times, often with little notice.
“While carrying out their duties, they cannot always socially distance and it seems to me that this has just been completely overlooked.”
National Federation chair John Apter called the JCVI decision ‘a deep and damaging betrayal that will not be forgotten’.
He said the announcement showed a complete lack of understanding about policing the pandemic.
“Together with others across policing, we have never said police officers should jump the queue but should be prioritised,” John explained.
“It’s right that the most vulnerable and health and care workers were vaccinated but what about police officers who cannot mitigate against the risks of contracting and spreading this deadly virus? Yet the calls to prioritise policing have been ignored.
“The very nature of policing is unpredictable and means my colleagues often cannot socially distance. They are going into people’s homes, going into hospitals, and having to get up close and personal when helping people or making an arrest.”
The national chair also pointed out that a number officers had died after contracting the virus while others are reporting sick or self-isolating, affecting forces’ operational resilience.
He added: “Giving police officers the vaccine would not only protect them and their families but also help prevent the spread of this virus.
“We are sick of warm words and no action by our political leaders who have demanded so much from policing during this pandemic. We will now explore every possible avenue open to us to protect our members from this deadly virus and this complacent Government.”