Covid in Scotland: Hundreds hit with Covid fines over new year

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Police Scotland issued more than 300 fines for Covid breaches during the new year period, latest figures show.

A total of 326 fixed penalties were handed out between 28 December and 3 January, while a further 21 people were arrested over the same period.

Indoor gatherings were prohibited and outside socialising limited under the rules in place across much of the country at the time.

Police Scotland has said formal enforcement would only be used as a last resort. This is similar to its approach during the first lockdown in March.

Speaking on BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland, Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said he was confident a "collective effort" in complying with the latest Covid laws will continue.

He said: "We fully recognise the impact these further restrictions will have on people's lives.

"We will have an increased visible presence of police officers in communities to support people and educate them on what the new regulations are.

"It has been astounding when you look at the level of restrictions and the sacrifice people have made that we have not seen an increase in the number of people not willing to comply."

But DCC Graham said the force "would not hesitate" to take enforcement action on the small number of people not sticking to the rules.

Covid fines start at £30, doubling to £60 if they are not paid within 28 days. Repeat offenders can face fines of up to £960.

image captionThe crowd at Edinburgh Castle on Hogmanay dispersed after police arrived

The number of people fined over new year was down slightly on the previous week (341 people were issued with fixed penalty notices between 16 and 27 December, while 18 were arrested).

The majority of Scots heeded warnings to hold Hogmanay celebrations at home with household members.

However, a breakdown of the Police Scotland data shows that - in addition to the arrests and fines - hundreds of people across the country were asked to disperse by officers on 31 December and 1 January.

A total of 858 people were asked to disperse in this period, including seven who were dispersed using "reasonable force".

Hundreds of people sang and danced at at Edinburgh Castle to see in the new year before dispersing when several police vans and cars appeared.

Another police enforcement action came against a group who gathered at a rented property in Aberfoyle during the festive period.

Police Scotland confirmed that 32 people were charged with culpable and reckless conduct in relation to this incident on on 27 December.

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