Scottish police will have to write on-the spot fines out by hand for those who flout new coronavirus laws.

Officers do not yet have books of tickets to issue for those who wilfully ignore social distancing.

So the force, The Herald can reveal, is ready to improvise by recycling forms normally used for people who urinate in public or drop litter.

Officers will have to score out the anti-social offence on the ticket and write in that the person they are fining has breached new health regulations.

The new penalties were unveiled by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon this week as she ramped up law and order rhetoric around the Covid-19 pandemic.

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However, Police Scotland insiders warned it would take time to print and issue necessary paper work.

One source said: “We have the powers but we do not have the means.”

The Scottish Government on Thursday announced new coronavirus powers for fines and other penalties it hoped would not have to be used.

Officials believe most people will obey the new rules without the need for police enforcement.

People have been told they should only be outside for a “reasonable” purpose, such as buying food, travelling to essential work, helping others or taking their once-a-day exercise.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Those found not to be acting in line with the regulations can be directed to return home or made to return home.

“They can also be subject to prohibition notices.

“If people don’t follow prohibition notices or instructions to return home, they could be liable to an on-the-spot fine and ultimately, if necessary, prosecuted.”

Yesterday, [Friday] the Government clarified that the fines would be £30 if paid within 28 working days and £60 if not.

The size of the fine will double for every repeat offence, to a maximum of £960.

Senior police sources have signalled repeatedly they want to continue enforcing the law in a Scottish consensual manner and are uncomfortable with any notion that they are imposing a draconian lockdown in a military fashion.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone yesterday issued a statement thanking “the overwhelming majority of people who are complying with very clear guidance to stay at home”.

He added: ”I expect the public to continue to do their duty and contribute to the national effort to keep people safe from the spread of coronavirus.

“This is a challenging time for people who have to adjust their daily habits and everything we do will be done in a fair, reasonable and proportionate manner.

“Those who persistently and blatantly defy the law must know we will enforce the law.”

The new regulations will be reviewed every 21 days and will expire in six months.

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Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said: “It is only because of the unprecedented crisis we are facing, and to save lives, that these powers are being introduced.

“They are temporary and will be kept under review.”

It is highly unusual for new powers to fine to be introduced before police have all the necessary paperwork to actually issue such penalties.

There is no criticism of Government over the delay. Insiders acknowledge that legislation was put in place exceptionally quickly.

The legislation – The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020, to be exact – came in toforce as soon as it was laid down at Holyrood on March 27. Very similar regulations take place elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

Yesterday there were questions too about exactly what people would have to do to be fined.

The new regulations allow citizens to go out for exercise. But they do no specify how often or for how long. Government advisors have suggested people should exercise once a day.

Asked whether how officers would issue tickets, Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said: “I want to continue to thank the public, and officers and staff, for their patience and ongoing support during these challenging circumstances.First and foremost, Our focus is to engage with the public to encourage their compliance with governmental advice. Where necessary, individuals can be issued with a fixed penalty ticket or charged and reported to the Procurator Fiscal in the interests of public safety.

“Enabling our officers and staff to have the tools they need to enforce the newly introduced legislation, and keep themselves and the public safe, is a top priority.

“We are rapidly progressing amendments to the current ticket books already available to enable them to be used to support the Coronavirus Act 2020, introduced on Friday, and we expect these to be ready imminently. We are updating our technology to support these changes.”

Politicians appear to expect a commonsensical approach to enforcing the rules - with officers able to use their discretion and the public nudged rather than dragooned in to behaving safely.

Green MSP Ross Greer tweeted: “Being too prescriptive in legislation isn’t helpful, particularly during a situation which could change rapidly or repeatedly.”

The new Scottish and UK fines are lower than those in some of the worst affected European countries, such as Italy and France.

This week Italian premier Giuseppe Conte announced penalties of between 400 and 3000 euros for those who breach ‘anti-contagion rules”.

French authorities imposed a new regime of fines of up to 1500 euros and said people should not go out to walk or excise for more than an hour, or more than once a day or travel more than a single kilometre from their homes.

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Law enforcement sources, citing experience on the continent, do not expect absolute obedience for the new rules.

Police in an around Madrid alone issued more than 8000 fines to those breaking the lockdown in the Spanish capital.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We expect the vast majority of people to do the right thing without any requirement for enforcement but police now have the powers to act if necessary. 

"Justice IT systems will be updated shortly to allow rapid issuing of fines. 

"In the meantime, Police Scotland will be able to use manual measures in such cases – hopefully rare – where people refuse to comply with the regulations.”