A POLICE chief has called for front-line officers to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

Richard Lewis, Chief Constable of Cleveland Police, said officers should be a priority so they can work in the community safely.

He said: "We expect them to work within communities and respond to danger and they do us proud every day. After they’ve worked, they return to their families not knowing if the interactions they’ve had in support of communities during their shifts mean that they are silent carriers of covid-19 and the danger that poses to vulnerable members of their families.

"Indeed, our staff themselves could be vectors of the disease when interacting with the public so this call is also to help protect communities as well as our staff.

"The list of those that are worthy of early vaccination is long and I do not envy those that must decide on a prioritisation list; it must be a most difficult task. However, we can show our support for front line staff by vaccinating them as early as possible (amongst those that need prioritisation) so we can continue to serve the community safely."

People aged over 80, frontline health staff and care home workers have been the first to get the jab at designated hospitals hubs and community sites across the UK.

So far, 2,431,648 have received their first dose of the vaccination.

Mr Lewis said he had been humbled by "countless" stories of heroism by staff working on the front line during the pandemic.

He added: "Over the course of the last twelve months I have seen the courage and dignity of police officers and police staff members as they fight their own battles with Covid-19 and serve their communities as emergency responders and in control rooms.

"Over the years, we have frequently seen that our front line staff do not hesitate to run towards danger when the public call and do so with little thought for their own personal safety. I have been humbled by countless stories of heroism as our brave staff tackle armed and dangerous offenders in defence of the public.

"Today our staff face an unseen but no less present threat to their health and wellbeing; covid-19. Despite the threat, officers and staff continue to work within communities and whilst protected by Personal Protective Equipment, they do not have the option of working from home or limiting their contact with the public whilst at work.

"Our work continues regardless every day, to protect vulnerable victim of crime and deal with the public’s concerns. Amongst these victims are those that suffer domestic abuse that we safeguard.

"This is a task that our front line staff do willingly and with no complaint; supporting communities. It is now time that we do what we can to support them in return and vaccinate them against this awful disease."