Officers have lost faith in the Welsh Government after it failed to support calls for frontline policing personnel to be prioritised as the roll-out of the Covid vaccines continues, says Dyfed Powys Police Federation secretary Roger Webb.
And Roger says its despicable that some people in other professions, who do not face the same risks as police officers and staff, have had their jabs while they are still waiting to be offered any kind of protection.
“The police service is the service of the first and last resort and throughout the pandemic officers have put their lives on the line as they have gone about their duties,” says Roger.
“They have maintained normal service, fighting and preventing crime, protecting the vulnerable and keeping the peace while also upholding the various lockdown restrictions put in place, and often changed at short notice, by the Welsh Government.
“In doing that, they don’t have the ability to keep at a distance of two metres at all times, they can’t stand behind a plastic screen and they can’t depend on all the people they engage with being compliant with what they are being told.
“Officers were telling us prior to the pandemic that they were being used more and more to support the health service, attending to those who required medical assistance. This has continued over the last year and only this week officers were witnessed bandaging a member of the public’s head on our streets. Many occupations have continued to deliver a service online during the pandemic, policing has continued in person very often in an unpredictable and aggressive environment.
“Many politicians have voiced their support and appreciation for what the police service has been doing during the pandemic but when it comes to it they are just hollow words. The Welsh Government is paying lip service to us all and police officers feel extremely let down by that. We have to call in question the Welsh Government’s decision-making processes.”
The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) decided last week that once Phase 1 of the vaccine roll-out programme, which will see the vaccine offered to those aged 50 to 55, is completed Phase 2 will also be based on age so that those aged 40 – 49, then 30 – 39 and 18 to 29 will be vaccinated.
“Police officers completely understood the need for the most vulnerable groups in our societies to be given the jab first, along with frontline health and care staff. There was never an argument with that. However, we are now aware that some healthcare and social workers, who are not in roles where they are in contact with the public, have received the jab while police officers and staff are still some way off getting vaccinated,” Roger explains.
“Officers are often the first on the scene when there is a fire, a car accident or when there is another emergency incident. They, by the very nature of their role, run towards danger when others run away. That puts them at risk at any time but during a pandemic that risk is particularly acute and you would really expect politicians to see that.
“But I really question if they have any understanding of what policing is like and how difficult it is during a pandemic when they are facing the invisible threat of a virus with the added dangers posed by those who are spitting and coughing over them while claiming to have Covid.”