20 January 2021
Gwent Police Federation chair Steve Thorpe has welcomed the news that the Home Secretary is working to prioritise police officers in the next phase of the coronavirus vaccine roll-out.
Priti Patel, who was interviewed on LBC Radio by Nick Ferrari, said she has been working with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to effectively fast-track officers, along with firefighters and teachers, in the queue for the vaccine and that Health Secretary Matt Hancock is “100 per cent” supporting her.
She also said she has told policing partners to prepare logistically.
Steve said: “There is obviously no question that the most vulnerable members of society should be the first to receive the vaccine but it is absolutely right that the Government should then prioritise police officers and other workers on the frontline during the pandemic. This virus is continuing to have a devastating effect on the service as more and more officers become ill or are being forced to isolate.
“We would now like to see the Welsh Government take the same action and demonstrate the same support to our officers who remain on the frontline despite the dangers involved. They are the ones putting their own health, and that of their families, at risk. Yet as the programme currently stands, officers will only be vaccinated according to their age so it could be some considerable time before they receive any protection.”
A petition calling on the Welsh Government to prioritise officers was set up earlier this year by the father of an officer who contracted the virus while arresting an offender. He passed the virus to his heavily pregnant wife who ended up on a Covid hospital ward and having an emergency Caesarean section with twins born a month prematurely.
It has been signed by nearly 11,000 people and needed 10,000 to warrant discussion in the Senedd.
Steve added: “This is not about police officers ‘jumping the queue’, it’s about protecting them and the long-term resilience of the service as a whole.”
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick told LBC yesterday she was “baffled” that officers were not more of a priority in the rollout and National Federation chair John Apter has also been calling for police officers to be prioritised in the vaccine roll-out programme.