Police sent to break up illegal house parties amid ongoing coronavirus restrictions have expressed concerns for their welfare.
Kirkcaldy community inspector Gordon Anderson said he faced the prospect of losing an entire shift of officers if they were sent into a Covid-rich environment and then had to self-isolate.
Police have been issued with PPE to protect them during the pandemic but do not always have time to don it in an emergency situation.
Officers broke up at least 300 house parties across Scotland during the last weekend in September alone and Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said analysis suggested they were happening in every community and among all age groups.
This is despite Scottish Government rules barring people from different households from meeting in their homes.
Mr Anderson said the effect of coronavirus on police welfare was a big concern across the force, including in Kirkcaldy.
“We could quite easily lose half a dozen officers because they are exposed to it,” he said.
The inspector was speaking at a meeting of Fife Council’s Kirkcaldy area committee, where Labour councillor Ian Cameron raised the issue of large numbers of parties in Dysart recently.
“There have been lots of parties and police have been going in groups to break them up. If we go into a lockdown situation, I can see more of that,” Mr Cameron said.
“Are there concerns for the safety of the police themselves?”
Mr Anderson said the number of parties nationwide was well documented.
“Officers going to these calls is a worry for us. If we know what they are going into they can be fully kitted up with PPE and they’re protected but if it’s an emergency incident they don’t have time.
“There are tough choices to make and we have to do a very quick risk assessment at that time. It’s something we have to keep an eye on all the time.”
The inspector said risk assessments began as soon as calls were logged with the force’s call centres.
“Officers’ welfare is a big concern during this. We don’t want to lose an entire shift due to one incident. So far it hasn’t happened but it’s under constant review.”
Mr Livingstone has said officers called to household gatherings would use “good sense and exercise discretion”.
He added that most people were taking responsibility and doing the right thing, but warned there was no excuse for arranging, hosting or attending a house party.
“Where officers encounter blatant, wilful, or persistent breaches, we will take decisive action to enforce the law,” he said.