Police officers should be promoted in jab priority list, says MPS Commissioner
Frontline police officers should be “properly recognised” in the prioritisation list for Covid-19 vaccines, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Commissioner has said.
Dame Cressida Dick added that her colleagues were “not immune to the virus” and has asked the Government to consider the case for inoculating frontline workers earlier than planned.
Her views echo those of John Apter, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, who has said rank and file officers urgently needed the “protection they deserve”, and asked for officers to be prioritised after society’s most vulnerable groups and NHS workers have been given the jab.
Writing in The Times, Dame Cressida said: “By necessity, frontline police officers and staff interact with many people every day and are sometimes inevitably in close contact, whether helping injured victims or detaining offenders.
“I have been asking the government to consider that the unique environments in which frontline colleagues work are properly recognised in the prioritisation process for vaccines.
“The case for frontline officers so they can continue to keep others, as well as themselves, safe is very strong. I am delighted to hear this is being actively discussed.”
The MPS will be supplying 75 drivers to help their “overstretched” London Ambulance Service colleagues, Dame Cressida said, writing that the force was taking “unusual steps to assist our uniformed colleagues”.
She also praised the majority of Londoners for following Covid-19 legislation, but said her colleagues had seen others “flagrantly ignoring the rules” by holding house parties, meeting in basements to gamble or breaking into railway arches for unlicensed raves.
Dame Cressida wrote: “We will still be engaging, explaining and encouraging but those who break the rules or refuse to comply where they should without good reason will find officers moving much more quickly to enforcement action.”
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has suggested that police officers, teachers and other critical workers will be in the “highest category of phase two” of the vaccine rollout.
He told Sky News that currently the programme is prioritising those most vulnerable at death from coronavirus.
He added: “Some police officers, of course, and teachers will actually get the vaccine (in phase one) because they are in those categories, but we will very quickly move onto those other critical workers in the economy and, of course, those who are doing an incredible job, like our policemen and women in protecting us and enforcing the rules at the moment, will also be in that highest category of phase two.”