LEADING academics from the University of Sunderland (UoS) have added their voices to calls for the Government to vaccinate police officers alongside frontline health workers.
The calls come amid increasing concerns that numbers of officers are being significantly reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Northumbria’s Police Commissioner Kim McGuinness, Chief Constable Winton Keenen and Northumbria Police Federation’s Jim Gray are already supporting calls for officers and essential police staff to be prioritised, as appropriate, for the vaccine alongside health-workers, in order to keep vital public services safe.
UoS currently runs Professional Policing programmes developed by staff with decades of experience in the police service.
Now, Dr Jeremy Pearson, senior lecturer in Policing and a former Northumbria officer, has added his voice to the calls.
He said: “As a former police officer, I’m aware of the tremendous work they do in serving communities across our region.
“These officers provide protection and reassurance to members of the public and are frequently the first emergency service to respond to calls for assistance from the vulnerable as they seek help.
“Vaccinating frontline police officers will not only ensure that a greater number of officers are able to carry on this important work by remaining fit for duty, but will also minimise the risk of those officers unwittingly passing the Covid virus on to others during the course of their work.”
The Police Federation has already called for those serving in police forces to be given early access to Covid-19 vaccines, after the most vulnerable members of society and frontline NHS staff.
Professor Lynne McKenna, dean of the Faculty of Education and Society at UoS, said: “The University supplies a substantial supply of graduates to all areas of the public sector workforce.
“We understand the complexities of rolling out the vaccine, but we would very much welcome decisions on prioritising professional groups to enable the public sector to operate safely.
“We also await with great interest the outcome of the debate around vaccinating the teacher and school workforce, which is scheduled to take place in the House of Commons on Monday.”
The Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said in its report on December 30 that first responders may be prioritised in the second phase of vaccinations, alongside others at increased risk because of their occupation.
Graduates from the UoS Professional Policing programmes go on to apply for roles as police constables across England and Wales.