“You can’t police at two metres distance, we have to do the job to protect people to deal with the crime that we’d be dealing with.”
NPCC President Martin Hewitt told the Downing Street press conference yesterday as calls for police officers to be prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine ramped up.
Data shows more than 3,000 Metropolitan Police officers are either currently off sick with Covid-19 or needing to isolate.
Police Minister Kit Malthouse backed the calls, saying police have “a strong case” for access to the jabs before they are opened up to the general population.
Asked whether police officers should be bumped up the priority list, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “We are looking at those who are on the front line such as police officers, teachers and others who are naturally at occupational risk of coming in contact with the virus.”
“We are absolutely working to make sure that we can get the vaccine to them but that means working with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.”
MPF Chairman Ken Marsh said police officers are in the middle of keeping people safe from Covid-19 – at no small degree of risk to themselves and their families – “and yet amazingly they are not in the queue for the vaccine”.
“We have heard no mention of police officers being on the list to be vaccinated as soon as possible. There’s been no discussion whatsoever around my colleagues. It’s incredible, and sadly shows what they think of us,” said Mr Marsh.
“How well has this been thought out? We are your protectors. We are out there on the front line. We could be super spreaders because our officers travel and provide mutual aid across the country. It’s like we don’t exist. It’s amazing.
“In our day-to-day policing business officers continue to come into close contact with people who could be carrying coronavirus.
“There’s no working from home for the majority of our colleagues.”
Ken added: “My brave colleagues are human beings. They have families, they have loved ones, they have partners. They go home to them the same as everyone else does.
“It beggars belief that you want us to be put into this position where we are out there on front line keeping the public safe from Covid-19 and yet we are not even in the consideration to be provided the protection from the varying vaccines.
“We also have to bear in mind that the thin blue line is getting thinner and thinner. We have more officers off now than we’ve had throughout this pandemic, from Covid-19 and from isolation.
“Latest data shows more than 3,000 Metropolitan Police officers are either currently off sick with Covid-19 or needing to isolate – these numbers are going up rapidly now to the point that I fear that if this continues, we will not be able to provide the service to the public that they expect.
“We must be given a level of priority when the Covid-19 vaccine is more widely rolled out.”