More than 400 people across the north and north-east have been fined by police for coronavirus rule breaches since the beginning of the pandemic.
Officers have been tasked with enforcing new laws created in March last year to prevent house parties and other large gatherings from taking place.
Now police figures have revealed that 430 people have been fined across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray, the Highlands, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles for coronavirus rules breaches up to January 3.
There have also been 57 arrests during the same period as officers have clamped down on offenders who risk spreading Covid-19.
Police say approach has been ‘consistent’
During yesterday’s Scottish Government coronavirus briefing, Chief Constable Iain Livingstone explained police had taken a “consistent and proportionate” approach through the pandemic.
He said: “Officers and staff have overwhelmingly discharged these new responsibilities and duties with compassion and common sense, explaining the rules and helping people to do the right thing.
“But be assured, be very clear, where officers encounter wilful and blatant offences we will continue to act decisively to enforce the law, as the public would expect.”
He added: “It’s not a matter of whether we have got a light touch or being heavy handed.
“What we have looked for is proportionality. I think in the early days there were some instances in other parts of the UK where there was almost a kneejerk in terms of enforcement, and then there was a backing off potentially, and now we hear language of ‘we need to up our enforcement’.
“In Scotland we have been consistent.”
Police attend more than 700 incidents to investigate rule breaches in north and north-east
Police statistics show they have attended 720 incidents due to reports of coronavirus rule breaches across the north and north-east.
The vast majority of gatherings have been broken up by officers either asking groups to disperse or warning them about their conduct.
However, “reasonable force” has also been required with 55 people in North East Division and 10 in the Highlands and Islands.
Across Scotland, police have issued more than 7,000 fines and made nearly 550 arrests.
Communities praised by police for following coronavirus rules
Despite the coronavirus rule breaches, police have praised the response of residents complying with the new regulations.
North East Division Superintendent Kate Stephen said: “The vast majority of people have stepped up to take responsibility and our determination and collective effort to tackle this virus must now continue in the difficult times ahead.
“I fully recognise the impact these restrictions have on our communities but it is clear that the significant sacrifices being made by people across Scotland are vital to help suppress the spread of coronavirus.
“Officers will continue to support people to follow the regulations and encourage them to take personal responsibility.”
Investigation launched after police response to Aberdeen incident
Meanwhile, an investigation has been launched after three people were arrested following reports of a suspected house party on Fonthill Road in Aberdeen at about 11.30pm on Wednesday.
A video, which appears to show a struggle between residents and police inside the property, has been shared widely online and attracted criticism on social media, including from South Scotland MSP Michelle Ballantyne.
Police have confirmed two women aged 18 and 48 and a 43-year-old man have been charged in connection with assaulting officers and threatening and abusive behaviour.
Mr Livingstone told yesterday’s coronavirus briefing he was “satisfied about the legitimacy and proportionality” of the response.
However, he added that the incident had been referred to an independent advisory group set up to review the use of police powers during the pandemic.
Footage from body-worn cameras on officers will also be reviewed as part of the legal proceedings.
Mr Livingstone asked for people not to jump to conclusions based on footage on social media.
He added: “I would urge everybody to exercise caution when you see a partial coverage of a particular incident.
“Do not read into things you cannot see and do not make inferences that are not clearly there.”