Coronavirus: Quarantine check-ups problematic, says police chief

Scotland's top police officer has described checks on travellers in quarantine as "problematic".

About 16,000 people have been quarantining in Scotland over the last two weeks in the wake of tighter restrictions on overseas travel.

But Chief Constable Iain Livingstone told MSPs there had been a delay in the force being passed details of cases to follow up.

This was because of Public Health Scotland privacy concerns, he said.

The system of spot checks on people requiring to quarantine got under way in Scotland on 7 July.

Where health officials are unable to reach an individual who should be quarantining by either the second or third phone call the details are passed to Police Scotland.

But this process did not begin until 31 July amid Public Health Scotland (PHS) concerns about the privacy of the individuals, according to the chief constable.

PHS said it had to complete data protection impact assessments before handing over follow-ups to Police Scotland.

Weeks to pass over cases

Speaking at Holyrood's justice sub-committee on policing, Mr Livingstone said: "The quarantine arrangements have been problematic.

"It took Public Health Scotland a number of weeks to set up an appropriate process with Border Force.

"In the early weeks of that, we were not passed any information, it was felt that this was personal health information I suppose and for reasons of confidentiality that information was not passed to us."

Latest figures show 183,695 people arrived in Scotland from outside the UK between 22 June and 23 August, of which 49,789 were required to quarantine and 3,303 were contacted by the PHS for spot checks.

A total of 764 people were unable to be contacted over the same period.

Up to 5 August, Police Scotland said it had received 19 referrals about uncontactable travellers from PHS.

'Effectively unenforced'

Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur, who sits on the justice sub-committee, said: "It's now clear that there has been a succession of communication failures around the quarantine regulations.

"These supposedly strict rules seem to have gone effectively unenforced."

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