Thurso

Scotland, United Kingdom

Latest Stories

Plea for help to tackle 'uncontrolled camping'

Campfire
BBC

Highland Council is to ask for Scottish government help to deal with what it described as "uncontrolled camping".

Councillors said many areas of the region had been "adversely affected by a huge increase" in people camping where there were no facilities, such as public toilets.

They said the situation posed a potential public health risk and may not improve even after the reopening of campsites, adding: "Future demand from 'staycationers' may well outstrip any possible supply of campsite spaces".

To reduce the health risk councillors have suggested increased waste collections, better traffic management, restrictions on alcohol consumption and financial support for beach or countryside wardens, temporary toilet and handwashing facilities.

Police assaulted 265 times during first month of lockdown

Police on patrol
Getty Images

Police Scotland officers or staff were assaulted 265 times during the first month of lockdown.

Figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives under freedom of information also revealed almost 89 of these crimes were Covid-19 related.

The figures were published under freedom of information and covered the period between 24 March and 30 April.

There can be no reason or excuse for attacking these officers who deserve nothing but our gratitude. The fact that 90 of these offences were Covid-related is particularly abhorrent. Those who have perpetrated these assaults must feel the force of the law.

Liam KerrScottish Conservatives justice spokesman

QC praises police use of emergency powers

Reevel Alderson

BBC Scotland Home Affairs correspondent

Police on patrol
Getty Images

The QC who has been monitoring the way Police Scotland has operated during the coronavirus pandemic has said the force has been doing a good job.

Speaking to a virtual meeting of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), John Scott said the force had resisted demands for greater enforcement of emergency regulations.

A report presented to the SPA board said that from 27 March until 17 June there were more than 53,000 interventions using emergency powers - an average of 640 a day.

Data showed 92.8% of these were the dispersal of people, with only 6.6% of incidents involving enforcement action.

It also revealed the issue of fixed penalty notices or arrests was higher in the early stage of lockdown.

Prof Susan McVie of Edinburgh University, who has carried out research for the review, told the SPA board: "I think this demonstrates a high level of discretion in terms of the police having been given quite draconian powers."

Police fines for flouting lockdown measures plummet

Paul O'Hare

BBC Scotland News

Crowd on a beach
Getty Images

Police Scotland issued 35 fines last week to people who flouted the Covid-19 restrictions.

The figures, the second to be published since Scotland moved into phase one of lockdown easing, also revealed officers only made nine arrests.

The statistics show a 68% drop in the number of fixed penalty notices handed out, compared to 110 the previous week. This brings the total since the measures were introduced to 3,248.

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

The update, for week ending 10 June, confirms a dozen individuals were dispersed using "reasonable force" compared to 36 the previous week.

A total of 609 were "dispersed when instructed" while the number "dispersed when informed" was 2,449.

Police absence rate 'remarkably' lowest it has ever been

Holyrood Live

BBC Parliaments

Officer in PPE
Perth Picture Agency

The chief constable says while officers have been able to provide advice and enforce the law, Police Scotland has faced challenges in terms of staffing and PPE.

Mr Livingstone tells MSPs over 14,000 officers and staff now have access to PPE, with a dedicated team set up for sourcing and training on how to use it.

The absence rate is currently at 3.5%, Iain Livingstone confirms, which is "remarkably" the lowest it has ever been.

He says officers have been "very visible" in communities in recent months and the public has stepped forward to work with police services.

The chief constable also says the police officers remain concerned about those facing domestic or child abuse, adding: "Sadly for some people that stay at home guidance does expose them to greater risk of abuse, harm or neglect. We are aware unfortunately that virtual spaces are not also safe places for everyone.

"It remains a significant concern and priority going forward."

Fall in police lockdown fines but dispersal orders soar

Paul O'Hare

BBC Scotland News

Crowd at Luss
Getty Images

The number of fines issued by Police Scotland to people who flouted the Covid-19 restrictions plummeted by 56% last week.

The figures, the first to be published since Scotland moved into phase one of lockdown easing, also saw the weekly number of arrests fall from 30 to 11.

The statistics reveal 110 fixed penalty notices were handed out compared to 252 the previous week. This brings the total since the measures were introduced to 3,213.

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

But the update, for week ending 3 June, reveals the number of individuals dispersed using "reasonable force" doubled from 18 to 36.

Major increases were also recorded in the number "dispersed when instructed", which soared from 654 to 2,107, while the number "dispersed when informed" increased by 13% to 4,357.

Police powers: Lockdown measures protect 'right to life'

Good Morning Scotland

BBC Radio Scotland

sign
Getty Images

A senior lawyer, who has been asked by Police Scotland to monitor the impact of lockdown regulations, says it is important the powers are kept under constant review.

John Scott QC said the measures have been judged necessary because they protect the right to life, but should only be in place as long as necessary and used proportionately.

But he told Radio Scotland that it would be right for further restrictions to be introduced if there is a resurgence of Covid-19 infections.

The QC added that he thought "common sense" had been applied in the majority of cases, both by Police Scotland officers and members of the public.

Because the path of the disease is not necessarily only in one direction - it's not always just going to go downwards - then the restrictions may be reintroduced or additional restrictions might be introduced or introduced on a regional or geographic basis

John ScottQC

Volunteer constables donate over 25,000 hours since lockdown

Special Constables and police officers
Getty Images

Special Constables (SPCs) donated over 25,000 hours supporting Police Scotland in the two months after lockdown began.

The special constabulary is a part-time volunteer body consisting of officers with powers identical to those of police officers.

Following an appeal by Police Scotland in March, the number of hours SPCs were deployed for more than doubled, to 25,656, compared to the same period last year.

Assistant Chief Constable John Hawkins said: “While SPCs have always been considered a vital and valued feature of policing in Scotland, it is more important than ever that their role is recognised and I would like to sincerely thank them all once again for their efforts."

Retired teachers could help pupils back to school

Retired teachers could be asked to return to work so class sizes can be reduced in the Western Isles.

Bernard Chisholm, education director at local authority Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said it was an option being considered in preparation for schools reopening on 11 August.

He said school buses would have to carry fewer pupils and there would be social distancing measures on the transport.

Education management at Highland Council, meanwhile, is holding discussions on opening its schools on the same date. Its schools were not due to reopen after the summer holidays to pupils until 18 August.

The rules haven't changed yet, police stress

Iain Livingstone
BBC

The chief constable of Police Scotland, Iain Livingstone, says he wants to thank the "overwhelming majority" of the public for their cooperation over lockdown.

He says that as we progress through the phases of leaving lockdown, it is inevitable that police will move from "explaining, encouraging and where necessary enforcing restrictions" to a greater emphasis on guidance and advice.

Mr Livingstone says the approach of the police has been broadly to rely on the public doing the right thing.

But, he says, "the rules in Scotland have not changed" yet and "as a last resort" officers will enforce the law while they are out proactively policing until the change.

"Please stick with it," he urged.

More than 160 police officers test positive for Covid-19

Paul O'Hare

BBC Scotland News

Police
Getty Images

More than 800 Police Scotland officers have been tested for coronavirus with 163 positive results.

A report on Operation Talla, the force's response to the pandemic, confirmed the figures as of 29 April.

The paper, prepared for the Scottish Police Authority, reveals the numbers requiring to self-isolate, shield or having displayed Covid-19 symptoms resulted in a peak absence rate of 3,745 on 29 March.

It also notes absence rates remain "slightly higher than would normally be seen" with 1,486 off as of 7 May.

The report described securing suitable personal protective equipment as "challenging" but confirmed more than 11,000 frontline officers and staff have now been trained, equipped or re-supplied with the necessary PPE.

Meanwhile, figures for the end of April show officers engaged with the public 19,000 times in relation to the lockdown restrictions, but enforcement action was only taken in 10% of cases.

The paper also confirmed, as of 7 May, £9.48m has been spent on Police Scotland's response to Covid-19. The figure includes goods ordered, such as PPE, and overtime.

Change to older people's care 'needed'

care
Getty Images

A senior Highland councillor says there needs to be a radical change to the way care is provided for older people in the region as a result of lessons being learned from the coronavirus pandemic.

Linda Munro, chairwoman of Highland Council's health and care committee, believes more emphasis should be placed on care at home and in the community.

She says there will always need to be care homes, but more care should be delivered to older people in their own homes.

About a third of deaths from Covid-19 in the NHS Highland area have been in care homes. Ms Munro says the local authority should help to change to care services.

Decline in abuse reports does not reflect reality

Paul O'Hare

BBC Scotland News

Domestic abuse generic
Getty Images

Domestic abuse reports have "marginally decreased" during the Covid-19 lockdown.

But a report to the Scottish Police Authority suggests this does not reflect the reality.

Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: "We consider that these figures conceal some suppressed vulnerability and risk."

The paper, published ahead of the SPA's board meeting on Wednesday, also highlights the increase in requests to the Disclosure Scotland scheme.

Last month BBC Scotland reported an 18% rise in inquiries to determine whether an individual has an abusive past, with the majority made by police officers and social workers.

There has also been a reduction in the number of child concern reports, which Mr Livingstone said "may have been caused by reduced interaction between children and support professionals".

The chief constable's report also confirms the force investigated six murders from 1-28 April, recovered drugs with a street value of £2.6m and seized more than £1m in cash.

Summer COP26 would pose 'significant challenge' for police

Paul O'Hare

BBC Scotland News

Scottish Event Campus
Scottish Event Campus

A new date for the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow is expected to be set next month.

Dozens of world leaders and around 30,000 delegates were due to attend the conference in November but it was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A Scottish Police Authority paper revealed Police Scotland was asked to assess the impact of staging the global gathering at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) over spring, summer or winter 2021.

The force identified the summer as the only period of time that would provide a "significant challenge".

This follows as Glasgow is also scheduled to host 11 matches during the rescheduled European Football Championships.

Distillery comes to aid of RNLI with sanitiser

Kemp family
Orkney Distilling

The owners of an Orkney gin distillery have donated hand sanitiser to the RNLI after repurposing some of their equipment.

The spray is going to all 46 lifeboat stations around the coast of Scotland.

Kirkwalll-based Orkney Distilling co-owner Stephen Kemp said the family decided to make the alcohol-based hand sanitiser due to the extent of the need for it.

Dupre Strutt, the RNLI lifesaving manager for Orkney and Caithness, said: "We’re very grateful - it’s great to see businesses and communities coming together to support their volunteer crews."