Non-compliance with regulations put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus, particularly indoor gatherings, is on the rise, the head of the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) has said.
Calum Steele, the general secretary of the body that represents rank and file officers, said more complaints were being made against certain people who “have had enough” of the restrictions.
But Mr Steele said he does not believe, despite recent statistics, people in cities are more likely to break the rules as opposed to those in more rural areas.
Following a question from Labour MSP Alex Rowley at the Covid-19 Committee on Thursday, Mr Steele said: “I think to some extent, we’re probably talking about house parties largely… but it actually reaches across the length and breadth of the country.
“There is an increase in general non-compliance with those specific restrictions.
“Those examples of non-compliance are increasing among a relatively small proportion of the population who have just decided that they’ve had enough and they no longer intend to play by the rules.”
Mr Rowley quoted a recent 12% spike in complaints made to police in Dundee, compared to last year, while the same figure in Perth and Kinross dropped by 11.8% alongside a 14.6% drop in Angus.
Mr Steele said “I’m not sure that’s an urban versus rural problem.
“I think there’s an inevitability that, by virtue of an appreciation that there are more police officers in our urban centres rather than our rural locations, that there is probably a greater expectation in our cities that if the public phone the police to attend to gatherings… the police will be there and probably more of a grudging acceptance that there’s probably no point in phoning the police in some of the more rural areas, because by the time they get there the whole thing will be finished.”
He added: “I’m not sure there’s anything particularly distinct in the psyche of those that live in our cities versus those that live in our rural communities about the levels of compliance.”
Mr Steele went on to say the population is struggling under “fatigue” from the restrictions, which on March 23 will have been in place in some form across the country for a year.
Over recent weeks, the Scottish Government has extended its testing regime to emergency service call-handlers, in an effort to ensure staff numbers don’t drop to dangerously low levels, a move which Mr Steele welcomes.
But he said more should be done to test frontline officers, who are regularly expected to deal with the public.
“There has been some improvement in terms of the ability to access testing, but generally it’s when officers are symptomatic or believe they’re symptomatic and the ability to request and access tests is available to them,” he told the committee.
“We don’t believe, as an organisation that goes far enough.”
He added: “There has been a legislative intent that police officers place themselves in these high risk situations that there should be a support mechanism and a safety mechanism to ensure that as a consequence of having done so that police officers are not exposed to the virus and thereafter taken it to others and exposing others to that virus as a consequence.”
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