'It would offer such peace of mind' - Fresh police vaccine call

Hayley Johnston, a detention officer for Norfolk Constabulary

Hayley Johnston, a detention officer for Norfolk Constabulary - Credit: Hayley Johnston

A police worker has echoed calls for the constabulary to be given Covid-19 vaccines as soon as possible - describing just how great the risk they are facing is.

Hayley Johnston works as a detention officer for Norfolk Constabulary and has told of how even workers that are not uniformed officers within the force are exposed to greater risk than most.

In her role, Mrs Johnston is required to come into close and regular contact with people who have been arrested, who while in unventilated police cells are not able to access masks or face coverings for safety reasons.

It involves a number of tasks that are unable to be done from a two-metre distance, such as taking fingerprints and often involves physical restraint.

She said: "As just one example, officers had to arrest a man whose wife had tested positive, who we had to do welfare checks on every half an hour.

"This requires us to go and speak to him and be in proximity with him and while we have PPE, he does not. It can really be quite scary."

Chief Constable Simon Bailey. Picture: Archant

Chief Constable Simon Bailey. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Mrs Johsnton, of Stoke Ferry, west Norfolk, added that in their roles, police officers and other workers regularly come into close contact with people, many of whom will be in vulnerable positions or with health difficulties.

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She added: "It isn't just the fact we come into such close contact with people, it is also the type of people we come into close contact with.

"Sometimes these may be people who don't believe Covid exists or who just don't want to comply with the rules. This obviously makes us more vulnerable.

"But it's not just about keeping us safe either - if we are more at risk of catching it ourselves, we're also more likely to unwillingly pass it on to others."

She said that were more officers and police staff offered vaccines, it would make a huge difference to their working lives.

She said: "It would absolutely give us such peace of mind. I myself have three children at home and I don't want them to be frightened by the fact mummy is going to work."

Her calls follow impassioned pleas earlier this week from chief constable Simon Bailey and Andy Symonds, chairman of the Norfolk Police Federation.