25 February 2021
Police officers react with shock and fury to learn prisoners will be given vaccine priority, and not police
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.
“This news is a new low,” said Adam Commons, Chairman of Leicestershire Police Federation.
“I always knew that it would be a battle to get my colleagues placed in the vaccination roll out plan, but a month ago I’d have probably said we were making progress.
“The right people seemed to be listening, the vaccine minister, the Home Secretary. But in the last couple of weeks the narrative has shifted. First, we had the Health Minister casually drop the line on live tv that we would have to wait until yet another phase.
“But we now see a perverse situation arising where we could have someone sent to prison for assaulting a police officer and yet while they’re serving their sentence, they are likely to receive a vaccination jab.
“I’m bound to say that this does not make sense, but can anyone really explain how this works?
“My colleagues have been out there from day one, vilified by the media for handing out fines to support the Government’s lockdown’s and tier systems, sitting in hospitals filled with Covid patients while they look after people under arrest and support keeping NHS staff safe, going into multiple houses per day – I could write pages about everything they have been doing. And through it all they’ve had the stress of picking up the virus and taking it home to their families. And it has happened.
“To the Prime Minister I say this – we don’t forget, and we have long memories. Please don’t bother standing at a lectern telling the world how much you love us, because it’s just meaningless words when they leave your mouth. You can still make this right, protect the police who have protected the country.”
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.