Community policing ‘vital’ to enforce coronavirus emergency powers

Police Scotland has been redeploying a large number of officers into community policing to help enforce the “extraordinary emergency powers” in response to the Covid-19 ‘lockdown’.

Apr 24, 2020
By Paul Jacques
Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham

Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said community policing had “a vital role to play” in supporting the physical distancing legal requirement to stay at home, which remains the key intervention that can be made during this period.

Mr Graham, strategic lead for Police Scotland’s coronavirus response, said: “In Scotland, we have been able to maintain a highly visible presence in our communities as our officers and staff work round the clock to engage with our fellow citizens, explain these requirements and encourage people to cooperate with them. “The people of Scotland have stepped forward during this public health emergency to do their part to protect the NHS and save lives.”

Between Friday March 27, and 7am on Thursday, April 23, Police Scotland has issued just 1,637 fixed penalty notices and made 78 arrests across the whole of Scotland.

Police Scotland said its structure has allowed the service to take quick action during this period, including cancelling non-essential training and redeploying officers from back office functions or areas which have seen a decrease in demand to maximise resources for local policing divisions and other critical areas of frontline policing to keep people safe.

“In Scotland, we have been able to deploy a large number of officers into community policing and increased focused patrols in areas such as parks, beauty spots and town and city centres during this health emergency,” said Mr Graham.

“This means Police Scotland is likely to be engaging with a large proportion of people who do not stay at home. The chief constable and I have been clear that everyone – including police officers – must take a common sense approach.

“On the small number of occasions where officers have taken enforcement action, this has largely been in response to house parties or public gatherings, while a small minority of irresponsible and selfish people who repeatedly and wilfully break the law, have now received multiple fixed penalty notices.”

Mr Graham added: “ The legislation and guidance was introduced quickly and everyone has had to make changes to their daily habits and significant sacrifices in their lifestyles.

“For generations, successful policing in Scotland has relied on the consent of the communities we serve, and I am grateful for the very high levels of support and cooperation we have seen thus far.
“These are, however, extraordinary emergency powers which were introduced quickly and the chief constable has commissioned John Scott QC to lead an independent, external, review our use of them.

“Mr Scott and his group can provide significant value to our thinking and operational practice. We will engage with them on an ongoing basis as we keep our values of integrity, fairness, respect and the upholding of human rights at the centre of all we do.”

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