The Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey David Munro is calling for first responders to be given a higher priority for receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.
The PCC said frontline police officers and staff, ambulance workers and firefighters put themselves and their loved ones in harm’s way on a daily basis and that their interaction with the public exposes them to a higher risk of contracting and transmitting the virus.
Surrey Police has already had to close one of its custody centres during the Christmas period due to Covid-19 infections while officers and staff in other teams such as the Force contact centre have also been affected.
The PCC said it is vital that core policing is maintained across communities during this pandemic and those on the frontline across all emergency services deserve to get the best protection available.
PCC David Munro said: “I must make it clear that I fully support prioritisation for the vulnerable based on clinical need and would not want anything to distract from that.
“But I do believe that those first responders who are interacting with the public on a daily basis should be given the protection they deserve, particularly with the new variant of this virus being so contagious.
“By the nature of the job, frontline police and their colleagues in the other emergency services cannot chose who they come into contact with. While strict safety measures are in place for the protection of officers and the public, they can face confrontational situations without having the time to use full PPE equipment, which increases the risk.
“There have been examples in this country of officers being deliberately coughed at or spat upon. This is an unpleasant enough experience in normal circumstances but is now even more frightening for our first responders to have to deal with.
“One solution I would support is for policing to be provided with its own vaccination stock which could then be administered by force occupational health departments.
“This would mean that vital spaces in vaccination centres would not be taken up but that those on the frontline can get the protection they need.”