Police Scotland has thanked members of the public and businesses for complying with a new law designed to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Officers were given the power on Friday, 27 March, to fine people who refuse to stay at home and only go outside if they have a ‘reasonable excuse’.
Police Scotland is still compiling data from the weekend, but initial indications show that officers had to issue penalty notices on only 25 occasions across the country.
North East Divisional Commander Chief Superintendent Campbell Thomson thanked communities and businesses across the region for their support so far during this unprecedented time.
As is the case with the rest of the country, high visibility patrols have been in place across the North East since Police Scotland was given these enforcement powers and they will continue. My officers will continue to engage with people as appropriate and stress just how important it is to follow the guidance from public health experts. To enforce social distancing, people in Scotland are being asked to stay at home and only go outside if they have a ‘reasonable excuse’ – these include shopping for necessary food, household and medical supplies, travelling to and from work where working from home is not an option, and daily exercise that adheres to social distancing guidance.
These are not draconian measures – they are necessary to keep Scotland safe and well. The vast majority of people are complying with measures and penalty notices will be issued as a last resort. None have been issued in the North East so far.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for the ongoing support we are receiving from our communities as these extraordinary powers have been introduced. There is no denying this is an unprecedented situation, with significant challenges for each and every one of us, however I continue to be heartened by the show of community spirit in the North East as we all strive to help each other get through this, in particular the older and more vulnerable. The outstanding work of our colleagues within health and social care cannot be underestimated.
Please follow the guidance, stay safe and take care of yourself and those close to you.
Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said
We’ve had high visibility patrols in place right across the country since we were given these enforcement powers.
But it’s clear that the vast majority of people are complying with the measures. They know the message is to stay at home, and by and large, they’re doing that.
Where our officers have encountered people outside, they’ve been able to engage with them or educate them on why it’s so important to follow the guidance from our public health experts in order to save lives and protect the NHS.
There will always be people who refuse to comply, but the low number of penalty notices shows they are in the minority and in those cases we’ve had to use enforcement as a last resort. This is a big change to the way people live their lives and they need to adjust to that.
There were issues with people driving to some outdoor spaces such as parks and we will address this, working with our partners in local authorities where appropriate.
We have been given extraordinary powers in an extraordinary situation, powers we would not normally wish to have, but I’d like to thank the public for helping and supporting us. We police with the consent of the communities we serve, so a positive relationship with those communities is of huge importance to us.
To enforce social distancing, people in Scotland are being asked to stay at home and only go outside if they have a ‘reasonable excuse’. These include shopping for necessary food, household and medical supplies, travelling to and from work where working from home is not an option, and daily exercise that adheres to social distancing guidance.
Full details of the measures such as staying at home can be found here on the gov.scot website.
Police Scotland can issue penalty notices of £30, rising to £60 if not paid within 28 days, where they have reason to believe there has been an offence under the regulations. These penalties are doubled for each repeat offence up to a £960 cap, with no reduction for early payment. Due to the exceptional nature of these powers, the regulations will be reviewed at least every 21 days to ensure they are still necessary.