Police officers have reacted with fury to a decision to vaccinate prison inmates against coronavirus before them and other key frontline workers.

The Police Federation fears the move will result in a ‘perverse’ scenario of criminals jailed for coughing or spitting at officers and claiming to be carrying Covid-19 being treated before their victims.

In Leicestershire, a number of officers have been forced into self-isolation as a result of such assaults.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said teachers, police and other key workers should not get priority for Covid jabs, but that prisoners can be vaccinated.

Adam Commons, chairman of Leicestershire Police Federation, said: “This news is a new low.

“I always knew that it would be a battle to get my colleagues placed in the vaccination roll-out plan, but a month ago I’d have probably said we were making progress.

“The right people seemed to be listening, the vaccine minister, the Home Secretary. But in the last couple of weeks the narrative has shifted.

“First, we had the Health Minister casually drop the line on live television that we would have to wait until yet another phase.

“But we now see a perverse situation arising where we could have someone sent to prison for assaulting a police officer and yet while they’re serving their sentence, they are likely to receive a vaccination jab.

“I’m bound to say that this does not make sense, but can anyone really explain how this works?

“My colleagues have been out there from day one, vilified by the media for handing out fines to support the Government’s lockdown’s and tier systems, sitting in hospitals filled with Covid patients while they look after people under arrest and support keeping NHS staff safe, going into multiple houses per day.

“I could write pages about everything they have been doing. And through it all they’ve had the stress of picking up the virus and taking it home to their families. And it has happened.

“To the Prime Minister I say this – we don’t forget, and we have long memories.

“Please don’t bother standing at a lectern telling the world how much you love us, because it’s just meaningless words when they leave your mouth.

“You can still make this right, protect the police who have protected the country.”

Nationally, the Police Federation said Health Secretary Matt Hancock told police officers they would have to wait their turn to receive the Covid-19 vaccine – and that they will not be prioritised.

Leicestershire Police Federation Chairman Adam Commons
(Image: supplied)

Leicestershire’s chief constable Simon Cole and police and crime commissioner Lord (Willy) Bach have echoed the police federation’s concerns and backed its call for frontline workers to be given the protection of the vaccine.

However, despite the lobbying of senior officers, the Government has said it will not change policy,

The JCVI, which is advising the Government, believes vaccinating people in order of age is the fastest way to cut Covid-19 deaths.

Giving people priority based on their jobs could slow down the whole programme, it has said.

All four nations of the UK have adopted the same methodology and hope to have vaccinated all adults by end of July.

Teaching unions have made the same points on behalf of their members as police leaders.

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