Police may be asked ‘to do more’ on cross-border checks

The First Minister says more stringent checks may be needed on people travelling from England into Scotland.

Police may be asked ‘to do more’ on cross-border checks SNS Group

Police Scotland could be asked to “do more than what they are doing right now” at the border with England, the First Minister has said.

Nicola Sturgeon said such a move was one of the options on the table if a UK-wide deal on quarantine restrictions for international arrivals can’t be reached.

The Scottish Government this week unveiled plans that will see every person arriving from overseas at Scottish airports quarantine for ten days in a hotel.

But the UK Government has said only travellers to England from “red list” countries will have to do so.

The plans as they stand, which are due to come into force on Monday, mean a traveller could fly to England before then driving across the border to Scotland, potentially avoiding the need to quarantine in a hotel.

Sturgeon has previously said these measures do not go far enough, and discussions are ongoing with UK ministers to urge them to tighten rules.

She said: “There may be a combination of things we have to do.

“Agreements with the UK Government, and also asking the police to do more than what they are doing right now in terms of the checks coming into the country.

“That is still under discussion.”

The First Minister said she could not go into further detail about what police may be asked to do because final decisions are yet to be made and operational matters are an issue for Police Scotland.

She said: “If we can’t persuade the UK Government to introduce similar plans, it’s entirely their prerogative to make these decisions, I’m not being critical here. We just have a difference of opinion on this, which is fair enough.

“If we can’t persuade them to emulate us then we’ll continue to do what we plan to do, it will just be we have more of a back door vulnerability, and more of one than we would like to have.”

UK health secretary Matt Hancock has said those from red list nations arriving in England will need to quarantine in a hotel, while other travellers should isolate at home.

The Scottish Government is lobbying to achieve a UK-wide consensus for even stricter measures,

Sturgeon told the regular coronavirus briefing on Thursday if such a consensus is not possible: “We won’t scale back our own plans.”

She went on to describe herself as an “internationalist”, adding: “But this is a public health crisis and one of the biggest threats we face as we get the virus under control domestically, as we vaccinate against it, are new variants.

“That’s why we need to be really careful about this.”

The National Union of Students has urged the Scottish Government to make those from abroad who are studying in Scotland exempt from hotel charges if they return to the country, with president Matt Crilly saying students simply cannot afford the £1750 fee required for hotel isolation.

When asked about the plea, Sturgeon said: “I understand why any group would want to be exempt from these regulations, but the more exemptions we have the less effect these rules have.

“We are trying to stop variants of the virus and the virus generally coming into the country, so we need to make that as tight as possible.

Sturgeon said there would be a hardship fund set up for those who cannot afford the fee, but she stressed only a “very, very small” number of people should be travelling to Scotland.

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