Police in the Highlands & Islands continue to thank the public for their co-operation, consent and compliance during the coronavirus pandemic.

Following an appearance by Police Scotland's Chief Constable Iain Livingstone during the First Minister’s coronavirus briefing yesterday (Friday May 8) Divisional Commander Chief Superintendent George Macdonald is also urging everyone to stick with the guidance and to stay at home as the restrictions continue.

Chief Superintendent Macdonald said: “I continue to be extremely grateful for the public’s support of the role Police Scotland is playing in response to the pandemic.

"As the Chief Constable said, our officers and staff are being met by high levels of co-operation and it is my plea for everyone to continue exercising the same self-discipline, commitment and common sense which has, so far, served us well. As it stands, the guidance is clear – continue to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.

“Police Scotland officers will continue to be visible in your community and will engage with people where necessary, explain the legislation and encourage them to comply. Only where people continue to defy the very clear being given will enforcement action be used as a last resort.

“Day-to-day policing also continues and we remain committed to supporting and protecting vulnerable people and victims of crime at this critical time. I would urge anyone who wishes to report a crime, or has concerns that someone may be at risk of harm, to come forward – we are to help.

“Continue to stay safe, look after your loved ones and keep an eye on any vulnerable neighbours or friends. As I have said before, on a personal level we all know someone who works in the NHS or the care sector, or have family and friends who are being required to shield for their own protection. I ask everyone to continue staying at home, to travel only if absolutely necessary and to adhere to the physical distancing guidelines to help keep everyone safe.” 

Chief Constable Livingstone joined First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the National Clinical Director Jason Leitch during the Scottish Government's coronavirus briefing yesterday. He said: "Police Scotland’s response and our service will be assessed against three things – how the work of our officers and staff to support physical distancing contributes in some way to reduce the mortality rate in Scotland; secondly, whether, through our actions, we can maintain, and possibly even enhance, the very strong relationship of trust that policing has with the public of Scotland; and thirdly, that in doing this we protect the health, welfare and safety of all our officers and staff and their families.

"What we have seen and experienced across Scotland to date, is that communities have stepped forward, collectively, and as individuals, to do their duty, to help each other. I want to acknowledge and highlight in particular the significant sacrifices which children and young people are making during this important stage of their lives, when many milestones and events are arising.

"To my mind, this reflects the fact that my officers and staff are experiencing high levels of co-operation and consent from our fellow citizens, as policing does our part to support the application of what I acknowledge are very restrictive measures on personal freedoms.

"Reassuringly, we have seen some early indications in an independent survey commissioned by the Scottish Police Authority that public confidence in policing in Scotland remains solid during this time, and is perhaps even higher than it had been prior to this emergency.Going forward, we will continue to value the trust of the public and support them during these difficult days.

"And, I’m extremely grateful for the public’s support for policing. It is my plea, today, for everyone to continue to exercise the self-discipline, commitment and common sense, which has, thus far, served us all well.

"It is essential to protect the NHS and to save lives. Please stick with it.

The First Minister has discussed how things may change in the future, when it is judged safe to do so.

"We don’t know exactly when any changes will come, what they will be or how they will be viewed. What I can tell you is that the Police Service of Scotland will continue to act with courtesy and common sense and in line with our values of public service.

"As I have explained before, I have commissioned independent, expert, assurance led by a leading human rights lawyer, John Scott QC, to better understand the effect of the emergency legislation in our communities, and help us to discharge our duties consistently and fairly.It remains crucial that everyone right across the country continues to play their part. Please - stay home; stay safe; and follow the guidance.

"Officers will remain visible in communities across Scotland and may speak with you to explain restrictions and encourage you to adhere to them. Where necessary, and bluntly as a last resort, we will enforce the law.

"At the same time, I want to reiterate that Police Scotland remains here to help and support our fellow citizens to keep them safe in all aspects of their lives.

"Sadly, for some people, the stay at home guidance may expose them to a greater risk of abuse, harm and neglect. I know that private, and indeed virtual, spaces are not safe places for everyone.

"If you need police assistance, if you need our support or intervention, or if you have concerns about someone else, contact us and we will help.

"We are here 24 hours a day to support those in need, support those who may be vulnerable, and to ensure fairness and the rule of law.

"Police Scotland officers and staff are working around the clock, at times putting themselves in harm’s way, to respond to coronavirus and day to day policing demands. I reiterate my respect as Chief Constable and thanks for all they are doing and will continue to do.

"And I ask you, the people of Scotland, please continue to work together during this emergency. It is a shared mission for everyone in Scotland to reduce the spread of the virus, protect each other, and save lives.

"Thank you for your forbearance and commitment.

"Stay safe; look after yourselves; look after each other; and look after your families."