'Our biggest fear is a Covid breakout' says Yorkshire police federation as calls for officers to have vaccine mount
The chairman of Yorkshire's largest police federation has said his biggest fear is a Covid-19 breakout among officers and staff as calls for frontline key workers to be vaccinated mount.
Brian Booth, Chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation, confirmed Covid-related sickness rates across the force remain low at the moment, but there has been some localised disruption, meaning staff have had to work overtime and move to cover different areas.
Mr Booth said: "We have had little outbreaks throughout the force, which for short periods of time cause localised disruption. This is often managed with overtime working and moving staff from other areas to cover. The biggest fear is we have a mass breakout, but touch-wood this has not happened yet.
"At the moment, there are no great sickness issues and rates are low across the whole force.
"Where it catches us out is if there is an outbreak that lasts 10 days with people having to isolate after contact with an infected colleague.
"There was an outbreak in Kirklees a few weeks ago, but that is OK now."
Mr Booth's comments come as the Government faces calls for Covid-19 vaccinations to be given to police officers and other frontline emergency workers.
John Apter, Chairman of the Police Federation England and Wales, said: "There are many examples where officers are having to self isolate because of the nature of policing.
"My colleagues deserve whatever protection they can get, including the vaccine."
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has set out a list of priority groups who will be offered the vaccine first including residents and staff in care homes, all those over 80 years of age and frontline health and social care workers; and those over 75 years and over.
Craig Grandison, vice chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation, said vaccinating police officers, as well as ambulance staff, prison officers and firefighters should also be a priority for the Government.
"There are a number of occupations within this country where you physically cannot do social distancing including the police service, the prison service and the fire service. They have all got to get physically close up and personal people we have to lay our hands on.
"For me, this isn't just about vaccinating police officers so they are safe, it's about others and it's about vaccinating us so we can keep other members of the community safe.
"We see vulnerable people day in day out. We go from job to job to job. If we have got an a-symptomatic police officer or a police officer that's just contracted the virus then there is every chance that we can pass that on to an innocent member of the public doing our job."