POLICE officers feel frustrated and undervalued as they wait to hear whether they will receive priority for the Covid Vaccine, Hampshire Police Federation has said.
The Prime Minister has said he wanted police officers to be vaccinated “as soon as possible”, and the Home Secretary has said she is working to get this done. But officers are no closer to receiving the jab.
Zoe Wakefield, Federation Chair, said: “I’m completely baffled. It feels like nobody’s listening. You’ve got Dame Cressida Dick, the most senior police officer in the country, who’s made the point very well but appears to be being ignored. We’ve got a Dorset Police officer critically ill in hospital as a result of policing a demonstration. It just shows the risk that police officers are at.
“We can’t always social distance. We go to multiple addresses every day, we can’t always stop before we get to an incident to then put on our correct PPE. Sickness rates are rising.
“We’ve also been asked to help out the NHS. We’re the only emergency service that can enforce the legislation. The public need to have sufficient police officers on duty and we cannot get to the point where we have too many police officers off sick because that’s just going to going to not a place that anyone wants to be in.
“Cressida Dick pointed out that it doesn’t make any sense that herself and her chief officer team, due to their age, are going to receive the vaccine before most of her frontline officers. That just doesn’t make any sense to anyone, surely.”
Police officers are being exposed to extra risk as offenders deliberately spit at and cough at officers. The Crown Prosecution Service revealed this month that attacks on the emergency services were the most common coronavirus-related crime between 1 April and 30 September 2020.
Zoe added: “Police officers feel really frustrated and don’t feel valued. They’re out there every day, putting themselves at risk. They’re trying to protect the public, they’re trying to enforce the legislation. They’re doing the role that the Government wants them to do but they just want to be given a bit of priority for the vaccine. They don’t want to be super-spreaders. They don’t want to be this group of people who are asymptomatic. But they’ve got to carry on doing their job.”
This week, the chief executive of NHS England said teachers, police officers and other frontline workers may be in line for Covid-19 vaccines from 15 February, several weeks earlier than planned.
Sir Simon Stevens said there was a “legitimate discussion” to be had on whether to switch priority to those more likely to transmit coronavirus from those more susceptible to serious infection.