A FURIOUS front line police officer has written an emotional letter to the Prime Minister accusing the Government of having “little to no regard for our wellbeing” following its decision to snub officers for Covid-19 vaccine priority.
The PC from Hampshire – who has asked not to be named – has written a hard hitting letter to Boris Johnson and the Health Secretary Matt Hancock to tell them his colleagues are feeling “hugely let down” and “disrespected”.
On Monday (8 February) Mr Hancock told police officers at the Downing Street press conference that they will have to wait their turn to receive the Covid-19 vaccine and that they will not receive their jab until after the first 32 million people in the country – in priority groups 1-9 as deemed by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation – have received theirs.
This could be in May.
The front line officer, who lives with his mother who has severe asthma – said he was recently coughed at by an arrested person in hospital. And just days ago his colleague was spat at in the eye by someone thought to be Covid positive.
He wrote: “I accept the risks that come with the office that I hold, as every single one of my colleagues do. My mum, however, does not hold that office and has not joined the police service. Why should she have to accept the risks that I now pose to her just because I do not have the necessary PPE that could reduce transmissibility?
“Every single officer I have spoken to about this feels hugely let down and offended that they are not being treated with respect from the government that we are all working so hard to support throughout this pandemic. We are the first line of defence, after the NHS, to bring this pandemic to an end. Without us, there would not be lockdown compliance, there would be no one to enforce the rules.”
The officer added: “Today I have spent my entire working day mixing with doctors and nurses who are coming directly into contact with the virus. The notion that we as police officers are not important enough to receive vaccination in some sort of priority is preposterous. This is not an isolated incident.
“The incident today I am referring to has been ongoing since last weekend, and will continue until at least the end of the week. A rota of officers will be putting themselves at risk on a daily basis, and in turn, their entire shift. After this, they will return home to their families, and risk infecting them.
“I am aware senior police management and the Police Federation are working with you to come to a decision around how this issue will be fixed. I, however, as a ‘number on the ground’, wanted to give you some of the harsh realities we are facing on a daily basis, and how officers feel like the government have little to no regard for our well-being.
“We feel like we are being given empty words in response to our calls for some sort of prioritisation after the clinically vulnerable. The standard response of “waiting for the JCVI to decide what to do” is not cutting it, and we all feel like we are being forgotten about.”
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, the Government have refused to change tact.
Zoe Wakefield, Chair of Hampshire Police Federation, said: “Police officers are, quite rightly, furious at the Government for failing to prioritise them in the vaccination schedule.
“My colleagues are being spat at, bitten and contracting the virus through just doing their job.
““I am completely baffled and angry that the Government is blatantly ignoring the need for police officers to be vaccinated in the next cohort.
“Do they not understand that vaccinating police officers will not only protect this essential emergency service but it will also reduce the spread of infection?
“Police officers need protecting so they can continue to protect the public.”
Speaking on the issue in Parliament yesterday (10 February), Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said “The Home Secretary and I have made the point to the Health Secretary and Government that police officers face a particular exposure to the virus which we think necessitates being prioritised once the first four groups are being dealt with.
“That decision is not within our hands, it sits with the independent committee that’s making decisions about who gets vaccinated, but nevertheless we have along with the Federation and others made that point strongly.”