A lawyer who heads a police oversight board has claimed the roll-out of guidance requiring travellers to Scotland to quarantine has been “a mess”.
John Scott QC, the chairman of the independent advisory group on police use of temporary powers related to the coronavirus crisis, is unhappy the new regulations on people arriving in Scotland from abroad were not published until Sunday.
The regulations came into force on Monday, prompting Mr Scott to claim there would not be enough time for the public or police to “digest” what the new rules are.
The regulations are largely similar to those in the rest of the UK, meaning those coming into the country will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days or face a £480 fine.
He said: “The quarantine regulations, speaking personally here, I think are a mess.
“I do not understand them – they appear to be unenforceable.”
UK Government regulations were published last Wednesday, prompting Mr Scott to question why the largely similar rule in Scotland were not made public at the same time.
He added: “You can’t introduce new powers without giving the agency who is supposed to be enforcing them, even as a back stop, enough time to work out what they’re meant to be doing and disseminating as much training as they can in a short period of time.”
Appearing before the Justice Sub-committee on Policing at Holyrood, Mr Scott said the Scottish Government had acted more urgently than necessary.
Chief constable Iain Livingstone, who also appeared before the committee on Tuesday, said Police Scotland staff are still drawing up guidance for officers.
He said: “It’s been difficult for the legislation to be implemented, the speed of it has been a challenge and the awareness and understanding of it.
“We’re still working today, this very morning I was speaking to some of my senior colleagues who were in the process of providing guidance for officers and staff with regards to the regulations, albeit they came into force yesterday.”
The First Minister said “complex issues” on the regulation had to be worked out before they were published, including compliance with human rights legislation.
Speaking at the daily coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said: “There are, in substantive terms, not that many differences between the approach we’ve taken in Scotland and in other parts of the UK.
“There are some differences but we will work through those and make sure there’s as much guidance and understanding as possible.”
She added: “We have very deliberately tried to make sure that, in how we looked at enforcement here, we are not overburdening the police.
“That’s partly for a resource reason but also because we don’t want what is a public health measure to be too driven by criminal enforcement.
“We want it to be much more led from the health imperative.
“So these are all complex and difficult issues that we have to work through as carefully as possible and that is what we have and will continue to do.”