Police drink-driving breath tests ruled coronavirus safe

Health and Safety Executive 'satisfied' procedures are in place to manage risk.

Police Scotland has been deemed to have “suitable procedures in place” for safely using breath tests on suspected drink-drivers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Concern was reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) last month by the Scottish Police Federation, which suggested the use of other tests which it said would not put officers at risk.

Federation general-secretary Calum Steele said other tests such as urine samples could be used instead.

But following an investigation the HSE has now ruled no further action is required on the issue.

A spokeswoman said: “HSE received a concern about the risks to police officers from work-related exposure to coronavirus while conducting breath tests.

“We have now made inquiries and are satisfied that Police Scotland has suitable procedures in place to proportionately manage the risk and we do not intend to take any further action.”

Last month, Police Scotland said more than 11,000 frontline officers and staff had been trained and equipped or resupplied with the necessary personal protective equipment.

A spokesman said this is now up to more than 14,000.

Up to April 29, 827 police employees had arranged to be tested for Covid-19 and 163 of those were found to have the virus.

Further testing data from April 7 to June 10 shows 1164 symptomatic tests with 160 positive results, with no positive cases from 210 asymptomatic tests in the same period.

Deputy chief constable Fiona Taylor said: “I welcome HSE’s confirmation that we are meeting their expectations around the provision and use of protective equipment and procedures for road-side breath-testing during this public health emergency.

“We will continue to protect the public from those who put others at risk by driving after using drink or drugs.

“At the same time, Police Scotland has a moral, ethical, professional and legal duty to ensure the safety and welfare of our officers and staff and as a service we do all we can to protect them.

“Our operational guidance will remain under review and we will listen and respond to any new evidence and guidance if it emerges, where the statutory agencies consider it necessary.”

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