All 43 branches of the Police Federation of England and Wales are calling for frontline police officers to be prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine.
The below statement comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock told police officers 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 a 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.
The letter – signed by 43 Chairs across the country and the National PFEW Chair – is below.
Police officers feel betrayed by the lack of action from the Governments of England and Wales to protect them from exposure to this deadly virus.
At the daily press briefing on Monday the Health Secretary made clear that officers will not be included in the first phase of the Covid vaccine roll out. He could not even offer a guarantee beyond that, only that frontline officers will be ‘considered’ for vaccination in the next phase. This is not only unacceptable to our members it is also a dereliction of both Governments’ duty.
It shows that warm words and platitudes mean very little from Government.
Guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation states that: Frontline health and social care workers at high risk of acquiring infection, at high individual risk of developing serious disease, or at risk of transmitting infection to multiple vulnerable persons or other staff in a healthcare environment, are considered of higher priority for vaccination than those at lower risk.
The risks presented to our members show that this guidance applies to them. The nature of policing means our members are not always able to mitigate the risk of contracting and spreading this deadly virus. They often have to get up close and personal in many situations, which means the risk is ever present. One in three officers have reported being threatened by somebody claiming to have Covid.
The level of incidents of people weaponising the virus – by coughing or spitting at them – has increased considerably during the pandemic. On behalf of Government, police officers are putting their lives on the line every day and run a very real risk of becoming infected and exposing colleagues, family members as well as the public.
This seriously threatens the resilience of the police service if officers are off sick or required to isolate, taking them away from their duties.
This is not about police officers jumping the queue and never has been. It is about the duty of care that Government has to protect those who protect society. Thanks to the success and speed of the vaccination programme we know it would take less than a day to vaccinate the entire police service in England and Wales if the political will is there to do it.
Police officers have done everything asked of them, now it is time for Government to step up and protect those who have been on the frontline throughout this pandemic.
Anything less would be a deep betrayal and will not be forgiven or forgotten.
John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales
Andy Roebuck, Chair of Avon & Somerset Police Federation
Steve Bozward, Chair of Bedfordshire Police Federation
Liz Groom, Chair of Cambridgeshire Police Federation
James Thompson, Chair of Cheshire Police Federation
Mike Reed, Chair of City of London Police Federation
Glen Teeley, Chair of Cleveland Police Federation
Paul Williams, Chair of Cumbria Police Federation
Tony Wetton, Chair of Derbyshire Police Federation
Andy Berry, Chair of Devon and Cornwall Police Federation
Anna Harvey, Chair of Dorset Police Federation
Andy Jackson, Chair of Durham Police Federation
Gareth Jones, Chair of Dyfed-Powys Police Federation
Laura Heggie, Chair of Essex Police Federation
Steve James, Chair of Gloucestershire Police Federation
Stu Berry, Chair of Greater Manchester Police Federation
Steve Thorpe, Chair of Gwent Police Federation
Zoe Wakefield, Chair of Hampshire Police Federation
Geoff Bardell, Chair of Hertfordshire Police Federation
Pete Musgrave, Chair of Humberside Police Federation
Neil Mennie, Chair of Kent Police Federation
Rachel Hanley, Chair of Lancashire Police Federation
Adam Commons, Chair of Leicestershire Police Federation
Phil Clark, Chair of Lincolnshire Police Federation
Tony Fairclough, Chair of Merseyside Police Federation
Ken Marsh, Chair of the Metropolitan Police Federation
Andy Symonds, Chair of Norfolk Police Federation
Nick Hawe, Chair of North Wales Police Federation
Rob Bowles, Chair of North Yorkshire Police Federation
Sam Dobbs, Chair of Northamptonshire Police Federation
Jim Gray, Chair of Northumbria Police Federation
Mark Petrovic, Chair of Nottinghamshire Police Federation
Steve Treharne, Chair of South Wales Police Federation
Steve Kent, Chair of South Yorkshire Police Federation
Phil Jones, Chair of Staffordshire Police Federation
Darren Harris, Chair of Suffolk Police Federation
Melanie Warnes, Chair of Surrey Police Federation
Daren Egan, Chair of Sussex Police Federation
Craig O’Leary, Chair of Thames Valley Police Federation
Simon Payne, Chair of Warwickshire Police Federation
Sarah Cooper, Chair of West Mercia Police Federation
Jon Nott, Chair of West Midlands Police Federation
Brian Booth, Chair of West Yorkshire Police Federation
Mark Andrews, Chair of Wiltshire Police Federation