Priti Patel pushing for police officers to be coronavirus vaccine priority

20 January 2021, 08:59 | Updated: 21 January 2021, 09:54

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Home Secretary Priti Patel has told LBC she is pushing to get frontline police officers prioritised in the next phase of the coronavirus vaccine rollout.

It comes after Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said she is "baffled" why officers are not at the front of the queue for the jab.

Ms Patel said the Government is “absolutely working” towards getting priority access for the police, adding that she has “been saying to policing partners in particular, get ready.”

READ MORE: Home Secretary: UK relationship with USA will be stronger under Biden

READ MORE: Met recruiting thousands more officers in crackdown on violent crime

She said that she has been working with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and Health Secretary Matt Hancock “on making sure we can push policing, fire[fighters]... teachers... when it comes to getting the vaccine.”

She added that Mr Hancock “is supporting me 100% on this”.

She said: “I have also been very clear to the National Police Chief’s Council as well as the Metropolitan Police Commissioner that they themselves should start getting their plans ready so that when we can get the green light on vaccine rollout they prioritise their frontline officers, frontline staff to go for the vaccine programme.”

When pressed by Nick on why the rollout is not happening immediately, the Home Secretary said: “Primarily because we have a vaccine delivery plan prioritising... those who are susceptible to dying from Covid which is the over 80s and they have been and they are the priority group but within that plan of course the next wave will be the frontline workers we're speaking about.

She added: “This is all about saving lives and protecting the NHS as well, so there is a lot of work taking place within the Government, with JCVI in terms of how we prioritise vaccine delivery.”

Revealing to LBC on Tuesday that she has been talking with the Government for “many, many weeks” about police officers getting the vaccine, Dame Cressida said it was vital to "keep the police safe."

She set out some of the roles her officers were carrying out while policing during the pandemic she said police "have to get up close and personal".

She added it was not possible for officers to dress in full protective clothing and PPE.

"They are putting themselves at risk, they have been for the last year," Dame Cressida said.

She said was "baffled" that those in her age bracket were set to be given the Covid vaccine before frontline officers.

She said: "In cohort five to nine you have people in what I might call my age group and I am baffled really why, but obviously this is a decision that the Government's made so far on the basis of something called the JCVI, who are experts.

"But in many other countries, police officers and law enforcement colleagues are being prioritised and I want my officers to get the vaccination."