Senedd prepares to debate vaccine priority for officers

25 February 2021

There are fresh hopes for officers as the Senedd prepares to debate giving them some priority in the vaccination roll-out programme.

The debate, next Wednesday (3 March), was triggered after a petition calling officers to be prioritised gained more than 10,000 signatures.

Dyfed Powys Police Federation secretary Roger Webb has welcomed the debate.

“It’s about time our voices were heard,” Roger said, “We have been campaigning on this for months now. I just hope that the politicians take steps to give officers the protection they deserve.

“While we all understand that the most vulnerable in our communities, as well as frontline health staff and those working in care homes should be top of the list, I firmly believe police officers should be prioritised too.”

Roger added: “Our frontline officers are not only putting their own health at risk but they are often unknowingly exposing their families and loved ones to coronavirus too.

“They often enter houses or are put in situations where Covid-19 is present, simply by doing their job and protecting the public. They need protecting too.”

The petition was created by the father of a police officer who contracted coronavirus before passing it onto his heavily pregnant wife.

Graham Bishop explained that his twin grandchildren were born via emergency c-section a month early, after their mum contracted coronavirus from his police officer son.

It was recently confirmed by health secretary Matt Hancock, during a public coronavirus briefing, that officers will be vaccinated depending on their age.

But Roger believes this should not be the case.

“With most frontline officers being under the age of 50, it means they will not be given any priority,” said Roger, “The number of officers protecting the public on the frontline who, in reality, should get vaccine priority is relatively small compared to the two million people in the other nine categories.

“Not only will the vaccination help protect their health but it will also decrease the number of officers who are absent due to actually having the virus, or having been exposed to it.”

A number of Welsh politicians have already pledged to support the Federation’s campaign for police officer vaccine priority.

Their support came after the four Welsh Police Federations joined forces to send an open letter to the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, accusing him of reneging on his commitment to protect officers during the pandemic. They claimed he had treated them with contempt by refusing to raise them a priority group.

This was followed just days later by all 43 Federation branches across England and Wales sending another letter to the Governments in Cardiff and Westminster, condemning them for not protecting frontline police officers and staff.

The Police Federation’s Welsh lead, Mark Bleasdale, has also argued that if officers could not be given priority, then at the very least they should be among those on a daily reserve list for any spare vaccines. 

“I just hope that all of our efforts haven’t been in vain and the Governments reconsider prioritising officers going forward,” added Roger.