Coronavirus: 'No judgement' over lockdown mountain rescues

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Hillwalker in Scottish countrysideImage source, Getty Images

Hillwalkers and climbers should not be concerned about being penalised if they call 999 for help, Scottish Mountain Rescue (SMR) has said.

SMR chairman Damon Powell said mountain rescue assistance would be provided "without cost and without judgement" if people were in difficulties.

Police said they had breached lockdown guidance around travel for recreation.

The 27-year-old man and 23-year-old woman had travelled more than 60 miles (96km) from Glasgow to climb a mountain near Crianlarich.

Officers said the pair had "not been suitably equipped" for the climb up Beinn a' Chroin and Killin Mountain Rescue Team was called out to help them.

Lockdown restrictions have been eased in Scotland, but people have been asked to travel no further than about five miles for exercise.

Mountaineering Scotland said the news the pair had been charged had caused "concern in the outdoor community".

The organisation has issued phase one guidance to walkers and climbers and urged its members and others to "stay local, be prepared, be safe and be considerate".

Image source, G Laird/Geograph
Image caption,
Two people were charged after they were rescued from Beinn a' Chroin on Saturday

Stuart Younie, chief executive of Mountaineering Scotland, said: "Walkers and climbers who follow the guidance on travel and stay local should have no concerns.

"We want to encourage everyone who is able to access the hills to make sure they stay safe and are well prepared before they go."

Mountain rescue in Scotland is free and team members are volunteers. SMR represents 28 of Scotland's 32 rescue teams.

Mr Powell said: "Mountain rescue teams are here to help. If people get into difficulties in the hills they should be clear that mountain rescue assistance is provided without cost and without judgement."

Police Scotland said enforcement would only be used as a "last resort".

Chief Inspector Gill Marshall, from Forth Valley Police, said: "I would like to reassure outdoor enthusiasts that when the guidance allows the resumption of their pursuits, Police Scotland and our colleagues in mountain rescue teams across the area will be committed to providing support and assistance to those in difficulty, as we always have done.

"In the current climate we must all work together to minimise the risks faced, and we will continue to engage and encourage compliance, with enforcement as a last resort."

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