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Federation goes direct to PM with vaccine plea for officers

The leader of frontline police has gone public with a call on the Prime Minister to give priority access to COVID-19 vaccines to officers.

The Police Federation has broken away from weeks of talks with Police Chiefs and ministers and gone public with the demand that frontline officers should be given the jab.

With a new strain of the virus gripping the country and NHS leaders warning that intensive care units are at breaking point, concern is rising among officers that they are at more of a risk than ever as they battle to enforce restrictions while tackling normal crime levels.

Mr Apter revealed he has now written directly to NPCC Chair Martin Hewitt requesting that new and urgent representations are made directly to government over the issue so rank and file officers are ‘given the protection they deserve.’

He has now gone public with a direct appeal to the Prime Minister to step in.

Mr Apter said: “It’s time for the Prime Minister to do the right thing for police officers in the thick of this pandemic. I am calling on him to back my colleagues in their time of need as more are absent from work after contracting the virus or having to self-isolate.

He warned that the new strain of the virus could turn officers into ‘spreaders’, putting their own families at risk.

He said: “Getting hands on and working in close contact with members of the public is often unavoidable. This creates a risk, not only for our members and the public they are dealing with, but also for the officers’ families.”

Mr Apter said the decision to go public had been taken because all other options had been exhausted: “We’ve lobbied the NPCC who have raised this directly with government. Despite positive responses no formal decision has been made, and we now need immediate government action. That’s why the Prime Minister must make a decision - does he support police officers being prioritised for the COVID vaccine or not?”

The NPCC responded highlighting "the urgency around ensuring frontline officers and those in critical roles are vaccinated as soon as possible".

It’s not the first time Federation leaders have raised concerns over safety; at the start of the crisis the Scottish Police Federation released research highlighting the inadequacies of PPE provision.

With more cases and a new variant of the virus taking hold, officers are again raising the same concerns with their reps.

The decision to go public also highlights tensions between frontline officers and the government. Fed leaders say they have been left out of decisions taken during the crisis and the Fed continues to be shut out of the National Policing board which is chaired by the Home Secretary.

Mr Apter shared a letter to NPCC Chair Martin Hewitt asking for support from Chief Constables for his request.

He argued that policing needed to be resilient in order to carry out their work to support the NHS and other agencies responding to the pandemic.

Mr Apter said: “This is certainly not about jumping the queue in front of the most vulnerable members of society or those on the NHS frontline. It’s about ensuring policing is resilient enough to cope with the demands of the pandemic and that my colleagues can continue to support the public during these exceptional times.”

He added: “If we expect police officers to continue to police in the way that we do then it’s essential they are given the protection they deserve.”

The NPCC's response balanced support for the Fed's position while avoiding a demand for resources to be directed away from NHS staff.

Spokesman said: “The emergency services regularly engage with members of the public, as do our officers, staff and volunteers, who have all worked extremely hard since the start of the pandemic to keep our communities safe.

“We understand the urgency around ensuring frontline officers and those in critical roles are vaccinated as soon as possible.

“We have expressed these concerns directly to the government and work is underway to find a solution once those who are currently in the vulnerable group have been vaccinated”.  

In response to Police Oracle's inquiry, Number 10 said the Home Office was "working on it" and would respond on behalf of the government. 

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