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Commissioner candidates call for Police to be priorities for Covid jabs

Candidates vying to become Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner in May have called on the government to prioritise police officers for the coronavirus vaccine.

Philip Seccombe and Ben Twomey (45063258)
Philip Seccombe and Ben Twomey (45063258)

Last month the government reiterated that age rather than occupation would continue to be the principle by which the jab is offered, but many believe frontline workers such as police and teachers should be given priority.

Earlier this month Ben Twomey, Labour candidate for May’s Warwickshire police and crime commissioner elections, described the news as a “kick in the teeth” for frontline officers.

Mr Twomey said: “Since Covid-19 gripped our communities a year ago, our local police officers have continued working hard to keep us safe and tackle crime. Is it too much to ask that we protect the protectors?

“It would take a team of ten vaccinators just one day to vaccinate all of Warwickshire’s police officers.

“It is extremely disappointing that there are still no plans for Warwickshire’s frontline officers to be vaccinated as a priority. Socially distanced policing is simply not possible, and it is a kick in the teeth for police that the Government’s priority list does not reflect that.

“During the pandemic, police officers have had to deal with the additional threat from a small minority of offenders spitting or coughing in their faces, some of whom say they are infected with Covid-19. Our emergency services have been heroic in this pandemic, and our officers deserve better than this.”

Current crime commissioner Philip Seccombe, who will once again stand for the Conservatives in May, also called on police officers to be prioritised for the jab.

Mr Philip Seccombe said: “I support the calls being made by the Police Federation and the Police Superintendents’ Association for police officers and other frontline emergency responders to receive Covid-19 vaccinations as soon as possible, once vulnerable groups have been vaccinated. It’s an issue I have raised twice in recent weeks during discussions with Public Health and NHS leads and our county MPs.

“In Warwickshire, police officers and PCSOs have been working extremely hard across the whole Covid-19 pandemic to keep communities safe and this has often meant having a level of physical contact with the public that places their own health at risk, as well as their family members.

“The kinds of protections afforded to those in health and social care environments, such as the wearing of extensive PPE, are not always possible for frontline police officers responding to dynamic situations, where quick interventions are needed to protect lives and apprehend dangerous individuals.

“Sadly we have seen cases in Warwickshire where officers have been coughed or spat at while making arrests or dealing with people in the community. This is unacceptable at the best of times but in the current circumstances is doubly concerning.

“We have seen a really impressive roll out of the vaccine so far, with uptake rates among the over-65s at over 95% in Coventry and Warwickshire, the highest in the country. There must therefore now be some additional capacity for frontline emergency services workers to be vaccinated. I hope that the discussion that the Federation and PSA will be having nationally with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will provide the evidence that this is both needed and fully justified.”

Several of the district’s headteachers have recently said they supported teachers being given the jab sooner rather than later, in order to keep staff in school and avoid disruption to children’s education.

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