A police officer who tested positive for Covid-19 after working at an anti-lockdown rally has been admitted to hospital with a suspected blood clot on his lung, his policing federation has said.
The Dorset Police Federation said the unnamed officer, a man in his 40s, had attended a rally opposed to coronavirus measures on 9 January in Bournemouth.
The force’s Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya has warned of high rates of sickness and absence as officers continue to work with the public while the pandemic continues.
Anna Harvey, Chair of Dorset Police Federation, said: “This is a stark reminder of the extra risks our officers are facing on a daily basis.
“As I have previously said, police officers do not have a choice - they can’t stay at home they have to protect our communities.
“It saddens me to say that there is every chance this officer would not be in this position if police officers had been prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine”.
It comes after officers on the frontlines of enforcing pandemic rules are praised by ministers, with Home Secretary Priti Patel earlier this month telling those who flout rules “selfless police officers, who are out there risking their own lives every day to keep us safe… will enforce the regulations”.
However Ms Harvey added: “Warm words about how brave police officers are from the Government are not enough. Police officers are being put at risk.
“Our colleague is now another hospital patient that creates more pressure on our NHS. It’s simple protect the police and ultimately you protect the health service. To keep people safe, we need to keep the police safe.
“What I want now from the Government is action. We hear from the Home Secretary today that the police service is being told to 'get ready’ for the vaccine. But when will officers actually get the vaccine so that no more of our colleagues end up in hospital?
“It’s so frustrating as I know that local health professionals are supportive of front-line workers having access to the vaccine but the ultimate decision sits with Government.”
It comes as officers continue to hand out financial levy on those who have breached rules designed to stem the spread of the virus - with a maximum fine of £800 for house parties of more than 15 people the latest to be introduced.
Speaking on Monday Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said officers believed there had been a “significant increase” in the number of fines handed out for rule breaches, adding the anecdotal increase was “reflecting the fact that we’ve had more officers out on dedicated patrols taking targeted action against those small few who are letting everybody down.”