Frontline police officers ‘should be vaccine priority’

Frontline officers should be “prioritised for the Covid jab” a police chief has said – after West Midlands Police broke up an “illegal bar” attended by 150 people in Birmingham.

PCC David Jamieson
PCC David Jamieson

Police state they were pelted with bottles and one officer suffered minor injuries during the raid at the illegal nightclub set up near the Jewellery Quarter in the early hours of February 14.

Thermal imaging drone footage shows people making off from the venue over rooftops – but a total of 70 people were fined £200 each and the DJ faces a fine of £10,000.

Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, speaking at the weekly West Midlands Covid briefing, called for officers on the front line in this kind of situation to be prioritised for the vaccine.

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Mr Jamieson said: “Most of the events police are called to are still house parties, where people are celebrating birthdays, weddings or whatever and they are mixing in large numbers in breach of the Covid regulations.

“On Saturday night there was a particularly large gathering near the Jewellery Quarter where somebody had set up an illegal bar and it was estimated somewhere in the region of 150 people were in attendance in a premises which itself wasn’t a safe place to be, Covid or not.

“Those people were not social distancing and were flagrantly ignoring the law.

“About 50 people managed to escape via various means, but 70 people were issued with the £200 fines and the disc jockey does face potentially the £10,000 fine imposed on them.

“The degree of hostility to police in breaking up that event was considerable.

“Officers were pelted with bottles and one officer did sustain an injury and it is perhaps fortunate that other officers weren’t injured as well.

“It just underlines that there isn’t time for police officers to socially distance when dealing with this sort of event. It is difficult and problematic.

“I do put the plea out again for those officers who are on the front line who just cannot socially distance and don’t always have the opportunity to have the full PPE available to them if they are involved in a violent and escalating situation – I do say that those officers should be prioritised for the Covid jab.”

The meeting heard that between February 8 and 14, police handed out 1,568 directions to leave and 317 people received fixed penalty notices.

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