31 December 2020
Leicestershire Police Federation calls on Government to add police officers to COVID-19 vaccination priority list
Leicestershire Police Federation is imploring the Government and Prime Minister Boris Johnson to add police officers to the priority Covid-19 vaccination list to ensure officers can keep themselves, their families and the public safe.
This week the Government failed to announce a decision on whether police officers would be added to the priority list for the vaccine, despite weeks of high-level lobbying over the issue.
Adam Commons, Chairman of Leicestershire Police Federation, said: “All through 2020 my colleagues have bravely continued to work through this awful pandemic risking their own health and that of their families.
“It is only right that as part of the frontline alongside the NHS and other emergency service workers that they are now prioritised in receiving the vaccine.”
Adam added: “We are told the new strain of the virus transmits at a greater rate of over 50% so logistically it makes sense that my colleagues are prioritised so that the national increase in infection rates does not begin to impact on operational policing.
“I implore our MP’s within Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland to assist us in lobbying the Prime Minister to take this important step and ensure that my colleagues receive the protection so that they can continue supporting our communities.”
Whilst “frontline health and social care workers” are second in the Government’s published priority list for the vaccine roll-out, police officers do not feature at all on the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
The National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) has also been calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ‘do the right thing’ and ensure police officers receive priority access to COVID vaccines.
John Apter has now written directly to NPCC Chair Martin Hewitt requesting that new and urgent representations are made directly to Government over the issue so rank and file officers are ‘given the protection they deserve.’
The National Chair said: “It’s time for the Prime Minister to do the right thing for police officers in the thick of this pandemic. I am calling on him to back my colleagues in their time of need as more are absent from work after contracting the virus or having to self-isolate.
“We’ve lobbied the NPCC who have raised this directly with Government. Despite positive responses no formal decision has been made, and we now need immediate Government action. That’s why the Prime Minister must make a decision - does he support police officers being prioritised for the COVID vaccine or not?
“This is certainly not about jumping the queue in front of the most vulnerable members of society or those on the NHS frontline. It’s about ensuring policing is resilient enough to cope with the demands of the pandemic and that my colleagues can continue to support the public during these exceptional times.”
In his letter, Mr Apter stressed PFEW’s full support for the lobbying and wrote that he valued NPCC’s help and understanding on the ‘vitally important issue.’
However, he added: “If we expect police officers to continue to police in the way that we do then it’s essential they are given the protection they deserve.
“Getting hands on and working in a close contact with members of the public is often unavoidable. This creates a risk, not only for our members and the public they are dealing with, but also for the officers’ families.
“I formally request that the NPCC makes representations to ensure that police officers are prioritised as part of the COVID vaccine programme.”
Adam added: “I echo the words of our National Chair John Apter in the call for the Prime Minister to give my colleagues the protection of the Covid vaccine now that it is becoming available.”
According to the Government, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation “does not advise further prioritisation by occupation during the first phase of the [Vaccination] programme.”
It adds: “Occupational prioritisation could form part of a second phase of the programme, which would include healthy individuals from 16 years of age up to 50 years of age, subject to consideration of the latest data on vaccine safety and effectiveness.”