Chief Constable Iain Livingstone QPM today joined the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the National Clinical Director Professor Jason Leitch for the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing. A transcript of his address is below.
Thank you, First Minister.
I know many of us are feeling the frustrations and fatigue from the restrictions and sacrifices which have been necessary during this emergency.
The police role has been to support the need for physical distancing, and actually support the public health imperatives and I express my thanks, respect, and regard to the people of Scotland for working with the police service as, collectively, we have done very well in responding to the coronavirus.
The co-operation between the police and their fellow citizens has been vital to the relationship the service in Scotland has with the public during a significant period, when freedoms of movement; actions; association have all been limited. And, again, I pay tribute to the public for enduring the limitations on their freedoms.
The consent and support shown by the overwhelming majority of people in Scotland is based on the very strong bond of trust which has been established over generations. In Scotland we police by consent, and with a commitment to public good and wellbeing, as well as law enforcement.
Actually, I have been pleased to reflect on some signs that, as we respond to the pandemic together, that bond could actually be strengthened. That is a credit not only to the public, but to the officers and staff who are working with their fellow citizens in a shared mission to reduce the spread of the virus. I would thank all officers and staff and their families for their commitment to public service.
As the First Minister has said, because of the self-discipline and personal responsibility demonstrated by the overwhelming majority of people in Scotland, we are now able to look forward to a period and phases of transition.
As we progress through these phases, we will inevitably move from explaining, encouraging and enforcing and where necessary enforcing restrictions to a greater emphasis on guidelines and a greater emphasis on advice.
In truth, this has been our approach throughout this emergency - to rely on the common sense and personal responsibility of the public to do the right thing, to protect the NHS and to save lives, not to avoid a criminal justice sanction; but to do that because it is the right thing to do.
I am clear that we will continue to police with courtesy and fairness and with the support of our communities.
Of course, it is natural to look toward the summer months and getting out and about, but it is absolutely vital to stress that the rules haven’t changed yet.
Officers will be on proactive patrols, explaining the rules and encouraging co-operation. Where absolutely necessary, and as I have said right from the outset, as a last resort, we will enforce the law.
I want to again stress Police Scotland remains here to help. We are here to help our fellow citizens to keep them safe in all aspects of their lives.
We do know that some people are particularly vulnerable in private and virtual spaces and this has been a significant concern and priority for policing during this time.
We have been working extremely hard, with many partners, many partners in the third sector, to ensure that victims are given the vital support they need and that they deserve.
If you need police assistance, if you need our support or intervention, or if you have concerns about someone else, contact us, we are here to help you.
We are here 24 hours a day to support those in need, support those who may be vulnerable, we are here to ensure fairness, we are here to ensure equity, and the rule of law.
The rules haven’t changed yet in Scotland, please stick with it in the days ahead, keep doing what you are doing.
Stay safe; look after yourselves; look after each other; and look after your families.
Police Scotland has also published updated information on the enforcement of the coronavirus regulations. You can read that information here.