9 February 2021
Federation slams Government decision to not offer police officers any vaccination priority "disgraceful"
Furious police officers have hit out at the Government’s “disgraceful” decision to deny the country’s Cops a level of priority for the Covid-19 vaccine.
Adam Commons, Chairman of Leicestershire Police Federation, said the Government snub to police officers was “unacceptable” and was leaving police officers, their families and the public they serve at risk.
He was reacting after Health Secretary Matt Hancock told police officers last in no uncertain terms that they will have to wait their turn to receive the Covid-19 vaccine - and that they will not be prioritised.
Mr Hancock told the Downing Street press conference yesterday (8 February) that officers will not be vaccinated until after groups 1-9, as deemed by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which means they will have to wait for 32 million others to get the jab first.
But Adam said this was disgraceful, given the violent and dangerous situations officers are facing during the pandemic.
He said: “Our job so often comes down to running into unknown situations, officers are now doing it wearing PPE and facing people increasingly weaponising the virus, spitting and coughing at our protectors, who then have to go home to their loved ones not knowing if they could be passing the virus on.
“There have been examples across the country of face masks being pulled off police officers when they’re struggling with people, because we can’t always socially distance due to the nature of our job.
“This back door announcement by the Goevernment is not acceptable - it’s a disgrace.”
The Government’s decision to not prioritise police officers has come despite lobbying from the Police Federation, Chief Police Officers, the Met Commissioner and the College of Policing. And Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last month that police officers should be vaccinated “as soon as possible”, whilst Home Secretary Priti Patel told policing to “get ready” for officers to receive the vaccine.
Mr Hancock told the press conference: “We have ensured, through the clinical advice that we’ve taken, that the vaccine rollout goes through those who are most at risk first. So any police officer who is aged over 50 will be part of the initial rollout through the current groups down to what I call the JCVI cohorts 1-9, from the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations which advises us on the clinical basis for the order.
“After that we will then look at what order we go next and we’ll consider, for instance, questions of people who are in professions where you might have to be in contact with more people and the impact of the vaccine on transmission and make a decision and publicise it as soon as we’ve made that decision.
“No decision has yet been made in what order we’ll go after the JCVI cohorts 1-9 but we’re looking very closely, including at where police officers should be in that order.”
Adam added: “I am incredibly disappointed in the comments from the Health Secretary. I have been very vocal about this from early on, as have my fellow Chairs from other Branches and it’s clear we have the support of the public.
“In Leicestershire our Chief Constable, Simon Cole QPM, has been very supportive of our drive to get this done, as has the PCC Lord Willy Bach. They have been joined by other Chief Officers across the Country including The Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick.
“Unfortunately, the people that make the decisions in Government can’t seem to decide what to do. On one hand the Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi hints that he agrees and will move to add police to the priority list after the most vulnerable people in society have received theirs. The Home Secretary appeared to be supportive but again non-committal, and now we have this from the Health Secretary.
“So who is actually making the decisions and when will they listen to us and get the job done? My colleagues have been out there from day one, enforcing the Government’s vague legislation, often being publicly crucified for doing so. They are ‘policing Covid’ at the same time as carrying our usual demand investigating crime and protecting the vulnerable.”
“It’s time for the Government to wake up and listen to us. The Prime Minister said he hoped the most vulnerable in the Country would have received their first dose by the middle of February and that appears to be on track. I’m tired of seeing the nice compliments of how they think we are doing a fantastic job, only for us to be ignored time and again.
“The support is there, this isn’t controversial. Stop the rhetoric, get my colleagues on the list and start giving them the protection they need and deserve to protect themselves and by extension their families.”