Coronavirus: Warning of 'loopholes' in new police dispersal measures

New legislation which allow police to disperse indoor gatherings during the Covid-19 pandemic is plagued by “a number of loopholes,” according to the body representing rank and file officers.

The new powers allow officers to disperse indoor gatherings with more than 15 people from one household. Picture: John Devlin
The new powers allow officers to disperse indoor gatherings with more than 15 people from one household. Picture: John Devlin

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the move yesterday, with the new powers permitting officers to disperse indoor gatherings with more than 15 people from one household.

But David Hamilton, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation (SPF), said the organisation was not consulted on the move by the Scottish Government and it has questioned how the new powers will work in practice.

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Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr Hamilton said: "The legislation was only published yesterday and we have a number of questions with that... we've identified a number of loopholes.

"We didn't get any consultation on this at SPF, so we have a number of questions we've put back to Government, but hopefully we can work something out about what that means and what they're meaning with this legislation."

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Mr Hamilton said the SPF has concerns about how officers will know how many people are at a particular event, and how they can identify which households each attendee is from.

He added: "This is the type of thing - how do you know from the outside what's on the inside?”

Mr Hamilton claimed the legislation would be seldom used and he described the new powers as being about "messaging".

Both the First Minister and Chief Constable Iain Livingstone have said the powers will be used as a "last resort", with officers favouring an approach based on engagement with the public.

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