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31 December 2020
The National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) has called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ‘do the right thing’ and ensure police officers receive priority access to COVID vaccines.
John Apter hit out after the Government failed to announce a decision despite weeks of high-level lobbying over the issue by PFEW and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).
Mr 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 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.”