Dozens of people were reported to police for breaching Covid rules in Aberdeen on Hogmanay.
“Selfish” partygoers who flouted the stay at home requirements at the bells were last night condemned as “morally bankrupt” by appalled councillors.
Sergeant Geoff Catto revealed more than 80 calls were taken, in a 12-hour window, about people not following government guidelines – and promised rule-breakers would be “dealt with robustly”.
He told members of Rosemount and Mile End Community Council: “Since the latest lockdown rules have been applied there has been a huge increase in calls about people not adhering to the government rules regarding social distancing and having parties.
“As anticipated this resulted in an extremely busy Hogmanay across the city with over 80 Covid related calls logged in less than 12 hours.
“Since the start of the New Year calls have been sporadic with highs and lows and, on occasion, have stretched police resources significantly.
“Most part people will heed our advice but any blatant breaches of guidelines will be dealt with robustly.”
On Hogmanay, Rosemount itself remained quite quiet, although nine people were fined after being caught at a party.
Police charged another party host this weekend, with the number of fines now being issued in Level 4 restrictions “undoubtedly” up on previous months.
Sgt Catto added: “I would like to dispel the thought that Police Scotland are using the ‘softly softly’ approach and reassure the community that we are following the four Es – engage, encourage, educate and enforce – with enforcement being the last measure to be used when all others fail.”
Superintendent Kate Stephen added: “We fully recognise the impact further restrictions are having on people’s lives. However, it is clear that significant sacrifices are vital to help suppress the spread of coronavirus.
“The chief constable has made it clear that our approach throughout the pandemic has not changed. We will continue to engage with the public, explain the legislation and guidance, and encourage compliance, only using enforcement as a last resort.
“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 determination and collective effort to tackle this virus must now continue in the difficult times ahead.”
City council public protection convener, Jennifer Stewart, said partiers had behaved “totally unacceptably”.
“It’s wrong that people are suiting themselves and putting further burdens on the police and the only option is for severe enforcement,” she said.
“Putting officers at further risk because people are having a party is totally unacceptable when we all have to sacrifice our freedoms.”
The independent councillor added: “I was in Tesco for basic food supplies on Hogmanay and there was a woman not wearing a mask properly, it was sitting under her nose, and speaking about how she needed to ‘buy all this food for the party tonight’.
“It seems to me there is a moral bankruptcy with many people and I’m appalled.”
Liberal Democrat councillor, and former convener of the Grampian Police Board, Martin Greig, said: “It is alarming that there are so many cases of rule-breaking.
“The policies on isolation are the best way to get this pandemic under control and the rise in the number of cases is caused by making contact such as unlawful gatherings.
“It is not surprising that infections continue to increase when people are so irresponsible.
“The selfish attitudes of the offenders also put police personnel at risk of contamination.
“It is deeply troubling that they are in vulnerable situations because they have to attend incidents where the recommendations on seclusion have been ignored.”