Coronavirus in Scotland: police called out 7,000 times to break up social gatherings as new data shows increase in bookings for illegal parties

According to new data, since being given the authority to break up large gatherings last August, police have been called out to almost 7,000 illegal gatherings.

Coronavirus in Scotland: police called out 7,000 times to break up social gatherings as new data shows increase in bookings for illegal parties

The new data from Police Scotland shows that there has been a rise in the number of people using accommodation rental websites like Booking.com, to rent properties and host illegal gatherings, particularly over the Christmas period.

This data was obtained through a freedom of information request by the BBC.

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Instances include police in Edinburgh issuing fixed penalty notices (FPNs) to five people after they travelled from England the week before Christmas. Police attended their rental accommodation where they issued the fines.

In Inverclyde, a property was booked for three nights “under false pretence” by a “doctor”, who said they were working at a hospital nearby. Police attended the property after several complaints and found a group of more than 30 people gathering.

An incident in Tayside saw reports of parties at two properties, with numerous cars coming and going. Reports suggest that more than 40 people “ran off” when the police arrived.

Officers in Glasgow attended a rental property over the Christmas weekend where they found 20 people gathering, 18 of whom were aged just 16 or 17.

The data shows that the number of reports has slightly decreased since the middle of last September, but police officers are still getting hundreds of calls every week.

Over New Year, the number of calls peaked at 600 in a week.

In December, 73 per cent of weekly gatherings attended by Police Scotland were deemed illegal, in comparison to 33 per cent in September.

Between August, 28, 2020 and January, 8, 2021, officers were alerted to 6,856 gatherings in total.

Police Scotland has suggested that this number of illegal gatherings is likely to be much higher as house parties are known to be under-reported.

The data reported also highlights the increased resistance officers are coming up against when they attend illegal gatherings.

Instances include officers being bitten and punched in Argyll, in Dundee a man was arrested after trying to headbutt officers and another was arrested in Edinburgh after threatening officers.

As of January, 8, 2021, 3,647 fines had been issued and 486 arrests had been made.

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