Saturday, 15 May 2021

SNP blow: Police chief hits out at Nicola Sturgeon’s strict Scottish border plot

Scotland’s travel quarantine rules labelled ‘weird’ by Calder

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Edinburgh introduced a policy last week which forces all travellers arriving at Scottish airports from overseas to quarantine in hotels for 10 days. Measures have gone further than the UK Government’s policy, announced by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, which sees only those arriving from 33 “red list” countries into England forced into quarantine hotels.

The SNP led administration however had issues regarding a loophole involving Scots flying to an English airport from a country not on the red list and then travelling north by road or rail.

They demanded the UK Government help to enforce the policy and put up Scots arriving at English airports in quarantine hotels south of the border.

But UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said they would refuse to enforce the Scottish policy at English airports for Scots.

He urged anyone travelling from “low-risk” countries to Scotland via an English point of entry should self-isolate at home.

Because of this, the SNP led administration said people arriving abroad from England would be told to self-isolate at home instead, avoiding the £1,750 cost which they would have to pay themselves for a hotel.

Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also said they must give “serious thought” to English border controls to help enforce their quarantine policy.

Ms Sturgeon has held talks with Ian Livingstone, Chief Constable at Police Scotland regarding potential enforcement, adding: “I would like to have the most effective system in place here.”

But Fiona Taylor, Deputy Chief Constable of Police Scotland declared “We are a United Kingdom” and said such checks to help enforce the SNP Government quarantine measures were doomed to fail.

Dealing a blow to the proposals, Police Scotland’s Deputy Chief Constable said: “We are a United Kingdom and to try to intervene with that would not be particularly effective.’”

She added: “We have an enhanced visible presence on our arterial routes at the moment – in the borders, in our city centres.

“‘But there are no plans to be putting road checks on the border to stop people passing between Scotland and England.”

The police chief pointed out: “For my colleagues in the borders, many of them may live in Hawick or Jedburgh but their mum and dad may live just on the other side, in Ponteland for argument’s sake, and they may go to a doctor in Scotland and a dentist in England.

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“There’s so much travel between Scotland and England.”

She concluded: “When it comes to… people passing from airports, we have Border Force, we have agencies, we have other government agencies who are responsible for immigration and things like that.

“That’s not a Police Scotland responsibility in the main.”

When asked by about the comments today, Ms Sturgeon refused to comment claiming she hadn’t seen Ms Taylor’s comments.

But John Swinney, Deputy First Minister said the SNP led Scottish Government “do not want to do anything of that type”.

The senior SNP Government minister stressed that the border with England was crossed “many times a day for essential purposes”.

He added: “We saw over the period of about a week at Christmas time, the degree to which the virus can absolutely gallop away from us. We want to avoid that because we want to avoid another period of lockdown.

“We’ve got to work as co-operatively as we possibly can but ultimately, we’ve got to take the steps that we need to take within Scotland to suppress the virus to the lowest level possible.”

Earlier this month the First Minister said travel restrictions would be vitally important in the coming months.

The Scottish Government have laws in place preventing travel across the English border unless it is for an essential purpose.

They had also asked Police Scotland to enforce the rules tightly.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Travel restrictions will be a key way in which we stop new cases and in particular new variants of this virus being imported into Scotland.

“As we have found out and learned at our cost over the summer the virus travels when people travel.

“We perhaps should have done more at an earlier stage to restrict travel across our borders.”

The latest Government figures released to by the Scottish Government today show 103 people were currently in managed isolation in hotels north of the border.

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