Dumfries

Scotland, United Kingdom

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The rules haven't changed yet, police stress

Iain Livingstone
BBC

The chief constable of Police Scotland, Iain Livingstone, says he wants to thank the "overwhelming majority" of the public for their cooperation over lockdown.

He says that as we progress through the phases of leaving lockdown, it is inevitable that police will move from "explaining, encouraging and where necessary enforcing restrictions" to a greater emphasis on guidance and advice.

Mr Livingstone says the approach of the police has been broadly to rely on the public doing the right thing.

But, he says, "the rules in Scotland have not changed" yet and "as a last resort" officers will enforce the law while they are out proactively policing until the change.

"Please stick with it," he urged.

Council finances require 'fundamental reassessment'

Council HQ
Billy McCrorie

The coronavirus emergency has created a need for "fundamental reassessment" of Dumfries and Galloway Council's financial position and budget strategy, according to a report to the local authority.

Head of Finance Paul Garrett said it was well placed to deal with the immediate pressures - given the additional funding received from Scottish government.

However, some of its emergency response measures may be needed for an extended period and will have significant financial implications for the public purse.

The council said it was also becoming apparent that social distancing would remain a feature post lockdown and that implementing new ways of working would carry further cost.

More than 160 police officers test positive for Covid-19

Paul O'Hare

BBC Scotland News

Police
Getty Images

More than 800 Police Scotland officers have been tested for coronavirus with 163 positive results.

A report on Operation Talla, the force's response to the pandemic, confirmed the figures as of 29 April.

The paper, prepared for the Scottish Police Authority, reveals the numbers requiring to self-isolate, shield or having displayed Covid-19 symptoms resulted in a peak absence rate of 3,745 on 29 March.

It also notes absence rates remain "slightly higher than would normally be seen" with 1,486 off as of 7 May.

The report described securing suitable personal protective equipment as "challenging" but confirmed more than 11,000 frontline officers and staff have now been trained, equipped or re-supplied with the necessary PPE.

Meanwhile, figures for the end of April show officers engaged with the public 19,000 times in relation to the lockdown restrictions, but enforcement action was only taken in 10% of cases.

The paper also confirmed, as of 7 May, £9.48m has been spent on Police Scotland's response to Covid-19. The figure includes goods ordered, such as PPE, and overtime.

Decline in abuse reports does not reflect reality

Paul O'Hare

BBC Scotland News

Domestic abuse generic
Getty Images

Domestic abuse reports have "marginally decreased" during the Covid-19 lockdown.

But a report to the Scottish Police Authority suggests this does not reflect the reality.

Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: "We consider that these figures conceal some suppressed vulnerability and risk."

The paper, published ahead of the SPA's board meeting on Wednesday, also highlights the increase in requests to the Disclosure Scotland scheme.

Last month BBC Scotland reported an 18% rise in inquiries to determine whether an individual has an abusive past, with the majority made by police officers and social workers.

There has also been a reduction in the number of child concern reports, which Mr Livingstone said "may have been caused by reduced interaction between children and support professionals".

The chief constable's report also confirms the force investigated six murders from 1-28 April, recovered drugs with a street value of £2.6m and seized more than £1m in cash.

Summer COP26 would pose 'significant challenge' for police

Paul O'Hare

BBC Scotland News

Scottish Event Campus
Scottish Event Campus

A new date for the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow is expected to be set next month.

Dozens of world leaders and around 30,000 delegates were due to attend the conference in November but it was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A Scottish Police Authority paper revealed Police Scotland was asked to assess the impact of staging the global gathering at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) over spring, summer or winter 2021.

The force identified the summer as the only period of time that would provide a "significant challenge".

This follows as Glasgow is also scheduled to host 11 matches during the rescheduled European Football Championships.

'Sheer luck' nobody has been hurt by lockdown fires

Stephen Stiff
Police Scotland

Police in Dumfries and Galloway say they have been dealing with a spate of "extremely disappointing" fire-raising incidents in recent weeks.

The latest was at at the back of a property on Wilson Place at Heathhall in Dumfries on Monday - the second in the area in a matter of days.

There have also been incidents in the Troqueer and Lincluden areas of Dumfries as well as at Sanquhar and Kelloholm.

Area Commander Stephen Stiff said it was "extremely disappointing" at such a time and appealed for help in tracing those responsible.

Police praise for 'remarkable level of compliance'

Drivetime with Fiona Stalker

BBC Radio Scotland

A poster about social distancing guidelines on a park gate in Glasgow
Getty Images

Police Scotland's Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham insists the people of Scotland have "stepped forward to an extraordinary level" during six weeks of lockdown.

"To have only issued just over 2,200 fixed notice penalties from a nation of over five million demonstrates a remarkable level of compliance," he tells BBC Radio Scotland.

Asked if lockdown is gradually unravelling, he replies: "The evidence doesn't show that the increase in footfall or people using facilities like parks is as great as perhaps some of the anecdotes or media pictures would suggest.

"Yes, there are a few more people out and about but there are those legitimately getting back to work and things are open that weren't open previously."

My message is clear - thank you for your co-operation, keep it up."

Malcolm GrahamPolice Scotland Deputy Chief Constable

Public urged to contact police over domestic abuse concerns

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone urges anyone who may be experiencing any form of domestic abuse, harm or neglect, or has concerns about others, to contact Police Scotland.

I know private spaces, and indeed virtual spaces, are not always safe places for everyone. If you need police assistance or intervention, contact us and we will help

Iain LivingstonePolice Scotland Chief Constable

Mr Livingstone acknowledges the police officers and staff who are working "around the clock" and at times "putting themselves in harm’s way".

He also asks the people of Scotland to continue working together in their “shared mission” to reduce the spread of the virus, protect each other and save lives.

Police vehicle
BBC

Communities 'have stepped forward to do their duty'

Chief Constable
BBC

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone says Police Scotland's response to helping support coronavirus measures will be assessed by:

1) How the work of officers and staff to support physical distancing contributes in some way to reducing the mortality rate

2) Whether it can maintain, and possibly enhance, a very strong relationship of trust the police have with the public

3) Whether they protect the health and safety of all officers and staff and their families

The chief constable says communities have stepped forward collectively and individually to "do their duty and help each other".

He highlights sacrifices young people are making as the are forced to miss "milestone events" and says officers are experiencing "higher levels of consent" from citizens coping with "very restrictive measures on personal freedoms".

Mr Livingstone adds that recent independent surveys suggest public confjdence in the police "remains solid" and is perhaps "even higher than it was before this emergency".

Gull control scheme 'on hold' during outbreak

Seagull in Dumfries
Getty Images

A long-running free scheme to tackle issues with birds in Dumfries town centre is not currently able to operate.

Dumfries and Galloway Council said it was unable to safely remove eggs or nests while complying with social distancing guidelines.

It has, however, asked the public to continue reporting any problem areas.

The local authority said it would keep a log and start to tackle the issues once guidance allowed.

Mourners line the streets to pay tribute to paramedic

Robert black funeral
PA Media
People lined the streets of Campbeltown to pay their respects to Robert Black

People have lined the streets of Campbeltown to pay their respects to a paramedic who died after contracting Covid-19.

Robert Black, who was in his 50s and from the Argyll town, worked for the Scottish Ambulance Service but died in hospital with coronavirus.

The funeral cortege passed through Campbeltown before Mr Black was laid to rest at nearby Kilkerran Cemetery.

Scottish Ambulance Service staff across the country held a minute's silence at midday in memory of their colleague.

Police Scotland emphasises lockdown measures remain in place

Council sees fly-tipping incidents rise sharply

Fly tipping
Scottish Borders Council

The local authority in Dumfries and Galloway said rubble, furniture, garden waste and oil drums had been found dumped during lockdown.

It is continuing to make weekly household waste collections and urged the public to use those.

In the neighbouring Scottish Borders the council said it had not seen any noticeable increase in fly-tipping.

It stressed the decision to close the region's recycling centres was under "constant review" and had been made in line with government guidance.

Paramedic who died from Covid-19 named locally

A paramedic from Argyll who died after contracting Covid-19 has been named locally as Robert Black.

Mr Black, from Campbeltown, died in hospital in Glasgow on Saturday.

Argyll FM, where Mr Black did some work, said on its Facebook page that he was "a much loved member" of the team and would be "sorely missed".

The Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS), which did not name Mr Black, said it was "greatly saddened" by the loss of a "dear colleague".

Two ambulances outside A&E in Glasgow
Getty Images

Police call volumes 'higher than average'

Paul O'Hare

BBC Scotland News

Police officer
Getty Images

Police Scotland is receiving more calls from the public despite the coronavirus lockdown.

A Scottish Police Authority paper revealed there was an initial drop in the volume in the days after the restrictions were introduced.

But a report, by Assistant Chief Constable Alan Speirs for the Audit Risk & Assurance Committee, said: "Call volume has however increased, and is now higher than average in comparison to last year with a large amount of these calls from members of the public looking for advice and guidance on the new Covid regulations."

At the weekend it emerged recorded crime in Scotland is down more than a quarter since 23 March.

But public nuisance type incidents - mainly people reporting breaches of social distancing guidelines - have more than doubled compared to this time last year.

Looking ahead, the report noted: "Police Scotland is preparing for the medium and longer term implications of Covid-19 and the possible impacts of a number of scenarios e.g. warmer weather or continuation, relaxation or cessation of current social distancing measures."

Double rainbow spotted by police during Clap for Carers tribute

Rainbow
Police Scotland

Police in Dumfries and Galloway captured a double rainbow over the region during Thursday night's tribute to NHS and other key workers.

Road officers spotted the scene at Whauphill near Newton Stewart at 20:00.

Police described them as "beautiful photographs captured during a special moment".

Continued police concern over domestic abuse

Domestic abuse victim
SNS

Falling crime figures might mask a hidden rise in unreported domestic abuse incidents, Police Scotland deputy chief constable Fiona Taylor has warned.

A slight decrease in domestic abuse incidents contributed to a 25% fall in recorded crime between 24 March and 19 April as a result of the lockdown.

But Ms Taylor said that she is "acutely aware this may not reflect what is happening behind closed doors and we know that people don't always report abuse immediately".

"For some, this period of physical distancing and isolation may expose them to a greater risk of abuse, harm and neglect," she added.

Ms Taylor also cautioned on reading too much into the figures for a short period after the lockdown, saying "it could be months or years before a clear picture" emerged.

Winter 'Resurgence' festival idea to help economic recovery

Giant puppet
Neil Hanna
Many events have been cancelled across southern Scotland

A one-off winter festival could be held in southern Scotland to support economic regeneration in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

The idea has been floated by the creative sector organisation Dumfries and Galloway Unlimited.

It is examining the feasibility of pulling together a programme under the title Resurgence.

Dumfries and Galloway Council said that with none of the major spring and summer events going ahead organising teams were facing a battle for survival and needed to be supported.

Faulty masks withdrawn from ambulance staff

Katie Hunter from BBC Scotland asks the health secretary about face masks being withdrawn from the ambulance sector last week.

Jeane Freeman confirms the model (1863) was "found to have too poor a fit ratio" and therefore not safe for issue to ambulance and paramedic staff.

She explains that a different type of face mask has since been issued, adding that problems will be picked up with suppliers by the national procurement service.

Jeane Freeman
BBC

Speeding and drink-driving concerns on empty roads

Police Scotland vehicle following van
Getty Images

Police officers have raised concerns about the number of speeding and drink-driving offences on Scotland's unusually empty roads.

Police Scotland said that over the Easter weekend 10 people were detected for high-level speeding offences and 16 people were detected for drink or drug driving offences by Road Policing officers.

Supt Simon Bradshaw said: “Drink or drug driving is never acceptable and it is astonishing to see people behave so recklessly, particularly when we all need to be doing our bit to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives."

'We will listen to concerns over police masks' - Sturgeon

Police on the streets in Scotland
Getty Images

Nicola Sturgeon is asked if she is comfortable with police officers carrying out their work in masks that may not be up to the task.

The Scottish Police Federation has claimed new PPE for officers will not provide any "meaningful protection".

The first minister says Police Scotland have confirmed they have a "relevant supply of PPE" for officers dealing with Covid-19 incidents, and their use of type two fluid resistant masks is based on scientific evidence.

Ms Sturgeon says the government works closely with all parts of the public sector "to make sure we have the right supplies and that the quality being used is sufficient".

"We will continue to listen to, and respond to, any concerns raised by staff groups," she added.