Police take 'common sense' approach to new powers

Media caption,
'Go home now or get the jail'

Police Scotland's chief constable has said officers will take a “common sense” approach to enforcing the new coronavirus lockdown powers.

The force can now fine people or send them home if they are not following strict social distancing rules.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone told Good Morning Scotland the new controls were "extraordinary" but so was the threat from the virus.

He said he hoped to use the new powers sparingly.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Iain Livingstone said the powers were extraordinary but so were the threats

Scotland's most senior police officer said compliance levels had been "fantastic" so far but there would be some people who did not comply.

He said: "Therefore, I do welcome the fact there is now a lawful framework to enforce these guidelines if they are needed.

“To be brutally frank there needs to be a lot of common sense applied, this is an extraordinary time."

Mr Livingstone added: "The key issue is for people to comply with the guidance that has been issued.

"Not because potentially you end up having a fixed penalty notice, the reason to do it is to keep everyone safe.”

Image source, Police Scotland Air Suport Unit
Image caption,
Police Scotland's Air Support Unit issued tickets to four young people in Pollok Park, Glasgow, on Thursday

On Thursday evening, Police Scotland's Air Support Unit tweeted that they had issued tickets to four young people who were gathering in Pollok Park in Glasgow.

The chief constable was asked whether young people still congregating in groups in parks and other remote areas was a problem.

He said he did agree that younger people were undoubtedly getting a bit stir crazy having to remain at home.

Mr Livingstone said he would encourage them to use the multitude of methods of digital communication, citing the House Party mobile phone application that allows multiple contacts.

He said that when the police find groups of youths the first approach is to encourage them to go home and this has worked so far.

Childcare concerns

The Scottish Police Federation has complained that officers are category two in the key workers list, meaning they are struggling to get access to local authority childcare.

The chief constable told Good Morning Scotland this was a concern.

He said his staff were stepping forward to do their duty and had anxiety like all other parts of the community.

"We have raised this at the highest ministerial level. I know there is lots of work getting done centrally and through the local authorities but it is a monumentally challenging time," he said.

Meanwhile, Scottish government minister Michael Russell told the BBC the enforcement powers are needed for "the fight we are in now".

Also speaking to Good Morning Scotland, he said there was "no desire to penalise people for no reason" but the powers were needed to ensure the virus was defeated.

He said: “This is only required if people are doing the wrong thing, people should be confident if they are doing the right thing, if they are out for their exercise, then they are not doing anything wrong.”