Covid-19 testing for asymptomatic officers and staff following assault

Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor – police playing a vital part in pandemic crisis.

By Democrat reporter

Police officers and staff concerned about their health after being subjected to coronavirus-related assaults are now eligible for tests even if they are showing no symptoms.

The Scottish Government announced the change in policy today. Previously, testing in such circumstances was available only to NHS and care workers.

Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said: “Police officers and staff are playing a vital role in the work to protect the NHS and save lives, but assault is not simply part of that job.

“Therefore, it’s important that we do everything we can to protect our people and I’m delighted that the Scottish Government has agreed to our request that officers and staff can have access to tests in these circumstances.”

Earlier this week, Police Scotland revealed that more than 100 coronavirus-related attacks on officers and staff had now been recorded.

The Minister for Community Safety,  Ash Denham, said: ” Our police officers are on the front line each day to protect the public and to keep us all safe from Covid-19. No police officer should be the victim of abuse or violence while at work, and I support the chief constable [Iain Livingstone] in describing such behaviour as totally unacceptable.

“The the Cabinet Secretary for Justice spoke to the chief constable and the chair of the Scottish Police Federation, and he had very positive discussions with both. It is clear that, when an officer has a Covid-19 interaction, Police Scotland can offer facilities for an assessment and, where appropriate, a test.

The Lord Advocate James Wolffe and Chief Constable Iain Livingstone.

The Lord Advocate [James Wolffe] The Lord Advocate [James Wolffe] has confirmed that those who assault our officers and engage in such behaviour will be dealt with robustly by Scotland’s prosecution service. The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 enables penalties of up to 12 months’ imprisonment, a £10,000 fine or both following conviction for the offences of assaulting, hindering or obstructing a police officer.

“Our justice system also provides for protection for all workers under our common laws of assault, threatening and abusive behaviour and breach of the peace.”

Alexander Stewart MSP said: “Police officers are on the front line of enforcing the lockdown, and they continue to do their usual jobs of detecting crime and keeping us safe. For that, we cannot thank them enough.

“Unfortunately, some officers report being spat at and coughed at in a disgusting attempt to spread the coronavirus. Such behaviour is an attack on us all. The Scottish Police Federation has called for a guarantee that such individuals will not be released before appearing in court, so why has the Crown Office not directed that to happen?”

Ash Denham replied:  As I have just said, any police officer who is concerned after having a Covid-19 interaction—as I imagine many of them would be—can speak to Police Scotland’s human resources department and access a test, even if they are not symptomatic.

“There is no barrier to accessing testing. As Alexander Stewart rightly says, the police are at the front line, putting themselves at risk on a daily basis in order to keep the rest of us safe. We want them to have confidence that those who are concerned can access testing, and we expect them to be able to do so.”

She pointed Mr Stewart towards the Crown Office’s recent guidelines, which were issued by the Lord Advocate at the start of the Covid-19 outbreak.

He said that liberation is a decision for the police based on the circumstances of the individual incident and that the police can detain any person to protect the public from risk of harm.

“A person spitting at someone and saying that they have the virus would obviously meet a reasonable description of putting someone at risk of harm.”


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