A trade union representing thousands of police and community support officers and police staff has spoken of its disappointment that key public service workers are not to be given priority status in the next round of vaccinations.
UNISON says front-line key workers who have risked their own welfare during the pandemic to protect others and keep our communities running should be vaccinated without delay.
It says there is widespread public support for prioritising vaccinations for police staff and school support staff to aid the safe and sustained opening up of society.
Phil Williams, Chair UNISON police committee in Wales said,
“The nature of our jobs means police staff and our police officer colleagues are at greater risk of Covid exposure. We regularly have close physical contact with members of the public, providing life-saving first aid or detaining or restraining individuals. Social distancing is impossible in these situations.
“Officers in custody suites may be required to work in close proximity with Covid-positive detainees and there have been instances where the masks of police staff have been ripped off by agitated members of the public. We have been coughed at and spat on.
“Every day, police staff respond to emergencies alongside paramedics and ambulance workers who have rightly received the vaccine. We need the same protection.
“We’re asking for fair treatment. We’ve answered the call of Welsh government throughout the pandemic and we’ve been critical in engaging with the public and ensuring that regulations are adhered to. It’s essential that all involved in frontline policing be protected with a vaccine now.”
Simon Dunn, UNISON Cymru Wales lead officer for police, said,
“As government plans the easing of lockdown it needs to protect those working on the front line from new outbreaks of the virus.
“Police staff come into close contact with many members of the public each day placing them at risk of Covid, often in enclosed spaces like police custody suites, and in situations where social distancing is very difficult.
“Our members do not expect or want to be prioritised over health workers or vulnerable members of the public, but at this stage of the vaccination programme, surely there should be protection for those staff undertaking critical public safety roles, who cannot ensure Covid safety measures are followed.
“Public service workers have been there for us throughout the pandemic. They deserve our support and priority vaccinations.”
Alastair Gittins, UNISON Cymru Wales press officer on 07816 53 83 97