Police have been ‘fair and proportionate’ in policing Covid-19 crisis

Police have been 'fair and proportionate' in policing Covid-19 crisis

John Scott QC

Police have been “fair and proportionate” in their enforcement of Covid-19 restrictions, according to new research published by the Scottish Police Authority (SPA).

The independent advisory group chaired by John Scott QC has published a major 141-page report into police use of Covid-19 powers ahead of tomorrow’s SPA board meeting.

Noting that “most of the significant legislative restrictions related to the pandemic have now been removed”, Mr Scott said Police Scotland’s so-called ‘four Es’ approach of “engage, explain, encourage and enforce” appeared to have been successful.

He said: “The level of engagement with the public has been high and the use of enforcement has been low. The number of people who have been impacted from the point of view of criminal justice contact has been extremely small.”

Data analysis included in the report’s appendices “provide assurance that efforts were made by Police Scotland to deal in a fair and proportionate way with the majority of people in breach of the coronavirus legislation and that prosecutorial decision making was broadly in line with expectation”.

In total, there were 17,978 enforcements by police officers from the start of the crisis to the end of June 2021, comprising 17,006 fixed-penalty notices (FPNs) and 972 arrests, according to data analysis by Professor Susan McVie of Edinburgh Law School.

Police reported 2,221 suspected offences to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), of which nearly half (46.7 per cent) were brought to court and nearly a third (28.1 per cent) were dealt with through “direct measures” such as fines. No action was taken in 4.1 per cent and over a fifth (21.1 per cent) were still awaiting a decision.

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