Police were called to 405 house parties across Scotland this weekend following reports of alleged breaches of coronavirus regulations.
Six people were arrested and one Fixed Penalty Notice was issued between Friday and Sunday. Others were also given advice and dispersed.
Whilst responding to a party in Edinburgh’s Muirhouse at around 5.35am on Sunday, two officers were allegedly assaulted. The windows of two police vehicles were also reportedly smashed.
Two 47-year-old men have been arrested and charged in connection with the alleged incident and were due to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday.
At around 11.30pm on Friday in North Lanarkshire, a 21-year-old man was arrested and charged for allegedly obstructing officers who had been called to a party at a tower block in Muirhouse, Motherwell. He will be subject of a report to the Procurator Fiscal.
Last week, police recorded a significant increase in the number of reports of noise, public nuisance and disturbance compared to the same time in 2019.
This week, the trend has continued with officers responding to 1852 reports of such incidents across the country – an increase of 41% compared to the same weekend last year.
Deputy chief constable Malcolm Graham said: “The figures from this weekend show that we will use the powers we have to disperse parties which breach the regulations and will enforce where necessary.
“We will not tolerate blatant disregard for the legislation which is there to help stop the spread of the virus.
“I’m extremely disappointed to learn that two officers were allegedly assaulted while responding to a party in Edinburgh.
“Our officers find themselves dealing with situations on a daily basis to protect the people and communities we serve, and are trained to a high level to deal with violent and confrontational situations. However, being assaulted is not simply part of the job and it cannot be tolerated.
“The chief constable made it clear that assaults against officers and staff is utterly unacceptable in his public pledge made to tackle this last month.”
On Monday, rules limiting social gatherings in Scotland to six people came into force.
The tightening of Covid-19 restrictions means no more than six people can meet from a maximum of two households.
The rule applies in people’s homes and in public places, such as cafes, bars and restaurants.
However, children under 12 from either of the two households do not count towards the total of six.
DCC Graham said Police Scotland’s “consistent enforcement approach” would continue.
He said: “The majority of people have been complying with the law and we know that public confidence in the policing approach we have taken is high.
“Our approach throughout the pandemic has been to engage with the public, explain the legislation and guidance, and encourage compliance, only using enforcement as a last resort.
“We will continue with that approach, but we will not hesitate to use enforcement action where it is necessary.”
DCC Graham said the force has had almost 68,000 interactions with the public since the start of the emergency, and has only had to take enforcement action on around 3600 occasions.
He added: “However, we will not tolerate blatant disregard for the law, which is in place to help stop the spread of the virus, and we have been using our powers to disperse large groups of people at house parties.
“The chief constable has made it clear that we are asking people to take personal responsibility to do the right thing and remember the purpose of these measures is to aid the collective effort to stay safe, protect others and save lives by preventing the virus from spreading.”
Students have been told they can return home from university accommodation on a long-term basis, as long as they follow rules on self-isolating.
Updated guidance from the Scottish Government sets out what those who are studying higher education can do if they wish to change households.
Students have been asked to follow self-isolating rules and not use public transport if they decide to permanently return to another home, while still saying it is an “offence” to undertake short stays without a “reasonable” excuse.
Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said: “We would encourage students to remain living in their current accommodation where they are able to, so they can continue to benefit from both a blend of digital and in-person learning, where that is possible and the opportunity to engage with others, within the restrictions, to build new networks and to make new friends.
“However, we know that many students may be struggling with the prospect of not being able to return home to visit family and other support networks, especially if it is the first time in their life they have been away from home.
“Knowing what to consider in deciding whether to return home will help support wellbeing and enable students to make informed choices, but it is important to stress that adjusting to life away from home is always challenging.”
Current guidance states that people should self-isolate at home for 10 days if you have symptoms of Covid-19 or tested positive, or 14 days if living with someone who has.
Mr Lochhead has written to principals and student accommodation provider networks to set out the new guidance.
It has been developed in consultation with NUS Scotland and Universities Scotland.
The guidance sets out that students should “consider how you may benefit from in-person learning” if returning home on a permanent basis.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced measures which came into force on Wednesday which ban indoor visits between households.
Students had previously been asked by university bosses to not visit pubs and restaurants this weekend as part of efforts to limit the spread of Covid-19.
NUS Scotland president Matt Crilly said: “Today’s guidance provides welcome clarity to the students in halls, who will be considering their next steps.
“We welcome that students will be able to return home on a permanent basis.
“However, we are disappointed that the government continues to talk up in-person teaching, which may keep students on campus and increase risks unnecessarily.”
Gerry McCormac, convener of Universities Scotland, said: “The Scottish Government’s additional guidance about households puts the emphasis on staying within existing households and avoiding overnight stays elsewhere for now, but not at the expense of an individual’s wellbeing.
“It also makes clear that a change of household is possible but offers guidance to limit this to cases where a change then becomes the person’s main or only residence on a long-term basis.”
At the time, unlike now, people with symptoms were simply told to stay home for seven days to try to get better.
Generally speaking, only those whose condition deteriorated to the point of needing hospital treatment were tested.
This meant that as Scotland’s epidemic peaked during the month of April, in fact the country was only testing an average of about 1300 people per day – and sometimes considerably less.
That’s peanuts compared to the figures posted most days now.
Meanwhile, the Scottish and UK governments were building up their testing capacities, albeit not as quickly as some would have liked.
Their chief weapon was the new UK Government-managed regional testing network, with Scottish centres predominantly based at the country’s airports.
But this separate branch of testing data caused all sorts of havoc for those updating the Scottish Government’s spreadsheets, with huge gluts of test results dumped on them in mid-June which dated back months.
And then again, in early July, a whole tranche of backlogged data related to home testing kits and care home tests was belatedly added to the daily totals, meaning test figures in Scotland suddenly skyrocketed.
Since then, we’ve been consistently looking at far higher testing numbers than at any previous point in the pandemic.
They peaked in late August and early September, with the country seeing nearly 30,000 tests carried out on a number of days, testing around 16,000 Scots each time.
Since then, however, those figures have fallen back quite a bit, to an average of around 17,000 daily tests in September – or about 7400 people tested per day.
The difference between daily tests and newly-tested people is to do with the amount of individuals who are being repeat-tested, for example, care home workers.
A mountain rescue team have called on hill walkers to park their cars responsibly after facing “significant delays” during an emergency call out.
Lomond Mountain Rescue were called to an incident on Ben Lomond in the Trossachs on Saturday, following reports that a hillwalker was lapsing in and out of consciousness.
The group say they were delayed in responding to the incident due to inconsiderate parking and heavy traffic, with the road to Rowardennan reduced to a single lane.
They added vehicles had blocked the emergency access track that allows rescue teams to reach incidents higher on the hill.
The group have warned the delays could have been life threatening for the hillwalker if the incident had been more serious.
David Dodson, Team Leader for Lomond Mountain Rescue Team, said: “Getting along the road is really quite difficult at the best of times, but it was particularly bad yesterday because of the sheer volume of traffic and cars which were parked pretty inconsiderately.
“I think all we would ask folk to do is to use their common sense and try and think of other road users and not park in such a way is to prevent our vehicles going along the road.”
Andy Murray’s return to clay was a chastening one as he was brushed aside by old foe Stan Wawrinka in the first round of the French Open.
Much had been made of the pair being drawn together again three years after a brutal semi-final at Roland Garros proved the end of Murray’s right hip.
The cold and damp conditions were the same but the similarities ended there as 2015 champion Wawrinka took just an hour and 37 minutes to ease to a 6-1 6-3 6-2 victory.
It was so cold that Murray was wearing leggings under his shorts and there was sluggishness about the 33-year-old’s movement and particularly his serve.
He won just 11 points on serve during the first set as Wawrinka reeled off six games in a row.
There were a few more positive signs in the second set but Murray, who was unusually reserved, was still left motionless far too often as Wawrinka bulldozed the ball into the corners.
A break of serve right at the start of the third set brought the finish line closer, and Murray was unable to take any of his first three break points when he had Wawrinka at 0-40 in the next game.
The Scot looked underpowered compared to his opponent and he was left rooted to the spot once more as Wawrinka drilled a backhand winner into the corner to break for 5-2 before serving out the victory with an ace.
The mother of a child who died in a flagship hospital is seeking compensation from the health board.
Kimberly Darroch, whose 10-year-old daughter Milly Main died in 2017 at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow after contracting an infection, has launched legal action against NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
Ms Darroch believes that Milly, who was recovering from leukaemia treatment, died as a result of contaminated water at the £842m hospital.
However, an independent review published in June found there were no avoidable deaths caused by the design and maintenance of the building.
Ms Darroch told the Scottish Sun on Sunday: “We still feel in the dark about what happened to our beloved daughter.
“It’s incredibly painful to relive our ordeal, but we are determined to deliver justice for Milly and answers for all affected patients and parents.
“Our hope is that by taking action we can ensure no other family ever has to go through what we did.”
A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “We continue to offer our sympathies to Milly Main’s family for their loss.
“We remain keen to meet with Milly’s family and we would be happy to arrange this if they would like to discuss Milly’s care.”
An inquiry was launched by health secretary Jeane Freeman last year after the deaths of two adults and a child from infections at the hospital.
The investigation started last month and is chaired by Lord Brodie.
Delays to the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh will also be scrutinised, after Freeman stepped in to halt the move of patients between sites over fears around the ventilation system.
Retail crime experts are warning of a rise in shoplifters exploiting the compulsory use of masks during the pandemic.
Maxine Fraser of Retailers Against Crime (RAC) says that shops, which have suffered a drop in sales, are being hit harder than ever by theft.
She told STV News: “Obviously we understand the need for everyone to wear masks but it is adding to the difficulties in identifying those who steal.
“These are often sophisticated gangs of criminals who travel across the country.
“They have been quick to take advantage of face coverings to make their lives easier and the lives of shop and security workers harder.”
Stirling-based RAC has around 1500 retailer members across Scotland, Northern Ireland and north west England.
They receive and share information about shoplifters and other criminals such as credit card fraudsters.
A page from the organisation’s most recent “identification sought gallery” document, shared with STV News, shows unknown masked suspects, some of whom are described as violent.
Ms Fraser said that some criminals continually change masks in order to make identification eve more difficult.
She added: “These businesses are trying to protect their staff in the most challenging of economic circumstances and now they also have this to deal with.
“The criminal justice system needs to step up and ensure there is a meaningful deterrent.”
Jim McFedries, RAC chairman and head of profit protection at Scotmid Co-Op, said: “I have seen first-hand how this has impacted our front line colleagues and shrinkage.
“Both opportunist and prolific offenders have taken advantage of masks wearing to conceal their identity, disguising themselves at a time when our front line colleagues are thin on the ground and someone wearing a mask is the ‘new norm’.”
The number of reported crimes by RAC members in March was 742. Following lockdown, that dropped to 394 in April but in July it was 859 with 994 reported in August.
RAC also warns about an uplift in threats and violence towards workers.
Mr McFedries added: “We have had an increase in violence towards colleagues ranging from verbal abuse to actual physical violence in a bid to get away with stock in hand.”
The British Retail Consortium reported in March that total losses to retail crime in 2019 rose to £1bn with customer theft accounting for more than 75% of the total.
Two surfers have been rescued after being swept out to sea near Aberdeen.
The RNLI launched two lifeboats around 9am on Sunday to rescue the pair following a call from a member of the public concerned for their safety.
The surfers had paddled out beyond the surf line and were being swept out to sea and were unable to make their way back due to a combination of tide and wind against them.
Inshore lifeboat ‘Buoy Woody 85N’ was first on scene with a crew of three, having been guided to the surfers location – around half a mile offshore at the Footdee end of Aberdeen beach – by Aberdeen Coastguard Rescue Team volunteers ashore.
The two experienced surfers were uninjured but said they were both exhausted, having been in the water for almost two hours.
They and their equipment were taken aboard the lifeboat to be returned to shore.
With conditions worsening, it was decided the safest means of rescue would be to transfer the surfers to all-weather lifeboat ‘Bon Accord’, which had arrived at the scene in the calmer water beyond the surf line.
Cal Reed, Aberdeen Lifeboat’s coxswain, said: “We took the surfers on board ‘Bon Accord’ and our casualty care-qualified crew confirmed they were none the worse for their experience – but grateful for the offer of assistance from the lifeboat.”
“The member of the public who made the initial phone call did the right thing: if you think you see someone in difficulty at sea, always call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
“Bon Accord returned the surfers and their equipment to the lifeboat berth in Aberdeen Harbour where they met the Coastguard Rescue Team around 9.20am.
“The lifeboats were washed down and readied for further service by 10am.”