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Norfolk Police Federation

Federation Chair: Government must step up and urgently vaccinate police officers

14 January 2021

The Government must step up and urgently vaccinate police officers against Covid if they are to stay safe while they fight this pandemic, Norfolk Police Federation has said. 

Andy Symonds, Chair, said: “While officers are out policing this pandemic, they have been at risk. We have not been able to work from home. We have been at work having to arrest people who don’t want to be arrested and therefore assault us. We’ve seen a rise in the abhorrent act of spitting at officers by people who claim to have, or actually have, Covid-19. 

“We cannot police at two metres' distance therefore we are at higher risk. It is simply morally right for this Government to come forward with proposals on how they will vaccinate police officers to protect them and their families. In turn the police service can then continue to police and keep our communities safe.” 

Under the Government’s vaccines delivery plan, published on Monday, police officers are not considered a priority group and can be expect to vaccinated according to age or clinical vulnerability.  

On Tuesday however Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that ministers will consider whether key workers such as police, teachers and essential shop staff should be prioritised once the most vulnerable have received the coronavirus vaccine. 

The Job has also been made harder by mixed messages from politicians and woolly guidance, Andy added.

He said: “Officers have been dealing with new laws introduced with guidance sometimes not forthcoming until weeks after the law on the statute book. They have faced huge challenges in interpreting the law which in some aspects - particularly around leaving your home for exercise - is woolly, vague and extremely grey. We have mixed messages from politicians which has left officers stuck in the middle trying to support our communities in balancing the enforcing of the laws, offering advice and guidance to the public to keep us all safe.

“Officers have been asked by chief officers to step up our enforcement which I believe is the right call but along with this comes the negative stories we’ve all seen in media the news stories about officers issuing fixed penalty notices to people who have been found many miles away from their home address exercising. Police officers are in a difficult position and we find that we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. We see the negative stories towards police officers criticising our actions both for being too heavy handed or too lenient.

“My colleagues are human beings who happen to wear a uniform who are putting themselves at risk to police this pandemic. Sometimes we do get it wrong but we’re out there trying our best to protect everyone from the spread of this virus. I’m calling for the stubborn minority of people who continue to either break the law or are using the areas in which the law if woolly, vague and grey to place themselves and others at risk to stop and think about the thousands of people who have lost their lives to this terrible virus.”