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Police Scotland hands out over 500 fines to rule breakers

By David Porter

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Police Scotland has handed out more than 500 fines to people who have flouted lockdown rules, the Chief Constable has said.

Chief constable Iain Livingstone
Chief constable Iain Livingstone

However, Iain Livingstone said he did not expect his officers to patrol supermarket aisles to ensure that only essential goods were being purchased, as some forces in England have reportedly done.

He spoke as he appeared for the first time at First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh on Friday.

In some cases police have been called in to break up house parties after groups of people refused to return home.

The chief constable said the vast majority of Scots are complying with the rules but urged everyone to "stick with it".

He thanked people who are following the guidance, adding that his officers would "explain legal instructions, encourage compliance and when needed enforce the law".

"Since emergency powers came into effect two weeks ago, we have been required to take enforcement action in limited situations," said Mr Livingstone.

"Thus far, across the whole of the country, we have issued more than 500 fixed penalty notices.

"This has typically been during incidents where people do not comply with legal instructions even after being spoken to by officers; for example, house parties or other gatherings in public where those involved refuse to disperse."

Asked about police attending supermarkets, he said: "I would not expect patrolling of supermarket aisles.

"I would expect our officers to be visible, to be engaged with people wherever they happen to be, but I would not expect such prescriptive action."

Statistics released on Friday showed police had used the emergency powers to make 35 arrests since March 27.

Police also used "reasonable force" to return people home on 58 occasions.

There were a total of 537 fixed penalty notices issued, while groups were dispersed just under 1900 times.

The chief constable said that, on one recent occasion, police visited a house in the Scottish Borders where people had gathered in breach of Covid-19 lockdown measures.

The group did not comply with officers' instructions and a number of people were arrested and others were given fixed penalty notices.

Regarding the warning issued to former chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood for breaching the guidance, Mr Livingstone said he was confident the matter had been dealt with "in a timely, a fair, and proportionate manner".

In his closing remarks, he said everyone should continue to do their part to protect the NHS.

"The police service in this country is utterly founded in the citizens that we serve. We get our authority and our legitimacy from them.

"I know this a really, really difficult time, but everybody in policing is there to help people in the country, everybody in policing is here to make sure all of us do the right thing.

"We need to help the National Health Service and the way to do that is by following the guidance.

"Do what's been asked of you, and we will save lives."

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