Exclusive

1,300 London police off work as calls grow for them to be Covid vaccine priority

2 January 2021, 16:22 | Updated: 3 January 2021, 06:58

By Joe Cook

Police chiefs are calling for officers to be made a priority in the vaccine rollout, as LBC can reveal there are currently 1,300 Metropolitan Police officers off work due to Covid-19.

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, told LBC the force have “over 1,300 officers off at the moment with Covid or isolating” and are “forecasting that could double in the next month”, to 2,600 off work.

Mr Marsh, who represents more than 30,000 officers in the Met Police, described the situation as “critical”, adding: “This next month could be horrendous and police need to be out there.”

The Met Police Federation are calling for frontline police officers to be made a priority for vaccination and have been in conversations with the Home Secretary Priti Patel on the issue.

However, Mr Marsh likened it to “pushing on a closed door” and said they “haven't had any positive outcome”.

Read more: Church raises £9000 after it was ‘trashed’ in illegal New Year’s Eve rave

Read more: Government urged to keep all schools closed after U-turn in London

"We have been driving P marked cars - cars that go and collect dead bodies with Covid in the community. We have been doing that all year as police officers,” he said.

“We have been going to hospitals every day, we have had officers guarding Boris Johnson every day.

“It fathoms belief that we are treated in such a poor way to be honest with you, but we are asked to do so much,” he added.

Multiple police and crime commissioners have also made calls for officers to be made a vaccine priority, including Marc Jones in Lincolnshire and John-Paul Campion in West Mercia.

Read more: Tottenham and West Ham footballers condemned for breaking Covid rules

Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Scott, told LBC he has written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock to offer his support in rolling out jabs to police.

“At the moment we have had a relatively low number of cases, but that doesn’t mean we are complacent about it,” he explained.

“The operational impact of more police officers and staff catching Covid-19 means that there is a risk that there are fewer police officers and staff to deal with crimes, to answer the phones, to deal with custody suites.”

“It is important, I believe, that they have the vaccine for that reason. So we can keep those frontline services running.”

Read more: Hundreds of incidents reported as police break up NYE parties defying COVID rules

Read more: What I want to say about the person I lost: LBC callers' moving Covid tributes

As London saw another day of anti-lockdown protests in Hyde Park, Met Police Federation Chairman Ken Marsh said he hoped those breaking the rules would “have a bit of humanity”.

“If you want to catch it, that is your choice, but you are putting others at risk by your actions.

“I have no problem with lawful demonstrations during normal times, it is part of our DNA, but during this pandemic you are putting people at risk.

“If you want to do that, where is your humanity? It is bonkers."

When contacted for comment, the Met Police told LBC they do not provide a “running commentary” of the number of staff isolating.