Norfolk Police Federation chairman challenges government to act instead of offering platitudes
The chairman of Norfolk Police Federation has challenged the Government to back-up its praise of police with vaccinations to protect those on duty.
Andy Symonds claimed the Government was happy to offer its admiration and discuss the fantastic job officers were doing, but demanded that they “show it by action and not platitudes”.
The federation boss said “police deserved better” and called on officers to be prioritised ahead of a number of groups when it came to receiving the coronavirus vaccination.
On Monday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock asserted that police vaccinations will only commence after groups one to nine were vaccinated, which equates to 32 million people.
In response, Mr Symonds said: “My colleagues are out there putting themselves in harm’s way. My views have never wavered in that officers need to be vaccinated as a priority, not after over 32 million vaccinations have been deployed to people within groups one to nine.
“I have made it clear, and I know my colleagues support this view, that officers did not, and do not, want to be above those who are most vulnerable in our society.
“However, I want to see them given the vaccine after the first phase of vaccines have been administered in groups one to four.
“We have around 124,000 police officers in England and Wales who could be vaccinated in a few hours.”
“These are the men and women who are putting themselves and their families at risk and have done since the start of this pandemic. They do so as they believe in protecting the communities they serve.
“Now we have vaccines that offer protection, it is incumbent on this government to protect these men and women who have gone above and beyond during this last year.”
The decision to not prioritise police officers has come despite lobbying from the Police Federation, Chief Police Officers, the Met Commissioner and the College of Policing.
Last month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that officers should be vaccinated “as soon as possible”, while Home Secretary Priti Patel told officers to “get ready” for the vaccine.
Mr Symonds added: “Now we have a vaccine, the Government must allow officers to access it – much like many other countries across the world have done, countries that recognise the risks officers face and have done the right thing in vaccinating their officers.
“This Government is happy to come out in the media and declare what a fantastic job officers are doing and that we have its admiration. Well, show it by action and not platitudes.”
In Monday’s speech, Mr Hancock said: “I want to thank police colleagues who are doing so much to protect us at this time.
“We have ensured, through the clinical advice that we’ve taken, that the vaccine roll-out goes to those who are most at risk first.
“After that, we will then look at what order we go next and we’ll consider, for instance, questions of people who are in professions where you might have to be in contact with more people and the impact of the vaccine on transmission. No decision has been made yet, but we’re looking very closely at where police officers should be in that order.”