Coronavirus: More than 160 police officers test positive

Up to April 29, Police Scotland has sent 827 employees to be tested, with 163 diagnosed with the virus.

Coronavirus: More than 160 police officers test positive Police Scotland

More than 160 police officers have contracted coronavirus since the pandemic began, Police Scotland has said.

Running up to April 29, the force has arranged for 827 employees to be tested, with 163 of them testing positive.

The findings, which come from a report to be discussed at a Scottish Police Authority (SPA) meeting on Wednesday, also reveal the Covid-19 outbreak has cost Police Scotland nearly £10m.

The majority of the £9.48m sum has been spent on personal protective equipment (PPE) and associated costs along with ICT.

More than 11,000 frontline police officers and staff have been trained and equipped or resupplied with the necessary PPE.

However, officers were not immune to the virus with the force seeing “increased levels of absence”, the Policing Response to Covid-19 paper said.

Absence levels peaked at 3745 on March 29, and as of Thursday, May 7, the number of people reporting absent was 1486.

It comes after the Scottish Police Federation (SPF), the body which represents the vast majority of rank-and-file officers, called on Police Scotland to abandon the use of breath tests for suspected drink-drivers, saying the pandemic makes the practice unsafe.

Further figures revealed in the paper ahead of Wednesday’s meeting show officers have engaged with individuals in relation to legislation enforcing the lockdown measures around 19,000 times.

About 90% of those interactions resulted in no enforcement action, with the vast bulk of the remaining 10% being issued a fixed penalty notice.

Between Friday, March 27 and 7am on Thursday, April 23, Police Scotland issued 1637 such notices and made 78 arrests across the country.

The report also highlights results from the Your Police Survey, which went live April 9, showing public confidence in Scottish policing has increased by around 20% since the lockdown.

The survey also suggests “one in two people fully support the approach taken by Police Scotland to handling the lockdown” while over 90% agree with Police Scotland using new powers.

One document ahead of the SPA meeting comes from John Scott QC, a leading human rights lawyer commissioned by Police Scotland chief constable Iain Livingstone to independently analyse the use of emergency powers.

It states: “Public messaging from constabularies in England and Wales has been, at times, contradictory and confusing, and some of that confusion has filtered through to Scotland.

“The approach of Police Scotland in public statements has been to emphasise ‘common sense’ as the key guiding principle rather than detailed guidance.

“The absence of detailed guidance in Scotland has no doubt prompted some questions here that may have been answered in England, and created particular difficulties for some.

“But Police Scotland have not had to issue the number of ‘clarifications’ that have been a feature of communications in England and Wales.”

Deputy chief constable Will Kerr said: “Community policing has a vital role to play as we all make the changes and sacrifices needed to protect the NHS and save lives.

“The emergency powers were introduced quickly by legislators and apply highly restrictive measures on personal freedoms.

“Police Scotland is acutely aware of our responsibility to exercise these extraordinary powers with the consent of the public.

“That is why the Chief Constable commissioned independent, expert assurance led by leading human rights lawyer John Scott QC.

“We will continue to work closely with Mr Scott’s independent advisory group to better understand the effect of the emergency legislation in our communities, and help us to discharge our duties consistently and fairly.”

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