The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) has said a “rethink” of policing is needed as it set up an expert panel to provide advice on the risks coronavirus poses to officers.

Calum Steele, the federation’s general secretary, said government guidelines about social distancing do not take into account officers’ day-to-day duties, which often require them to be “up close and personal” with members of the public.

The federation has set up a panel of scientific and medical experts to address concerns, including personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements and decontamination of police vehicles.

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The SPF, which represents rank and file officers in Scotland, has also raised concerns over how officers should perform first aid – including CPR – during the crisis and the threat of officers carrying the infection back to family homes.

Mr Steele said: “The generic health protection advice promoted by the Government simply does not take account of the realities of police work.

“We need sector-specific advice which recognises and reflects the often unpredictable and up close and personal nature of policing, and this panel will help us secure that.

“The panel comprises some of the finest medical and scientific minds in Scotland and as it delivers specific advice to us, we will liaise directly with Police Scotland.

“We cannot continue with a mindset that says if a police officer doesn’t have symptoms then he or she doesn’t have the virus. This is wrong.

“An increasing amount of time is being spent with those in vulnerable categories. Police officers face a risk on a daily basis and we need to rethink about how we police.

“Every police officer is committed to upholding the law and helping the vulnerable but we cannot do that if our own officers are allowed to succumb to the deadly virus.”

The panel, which met for the first time on Monday, includes former chief medical officer for Scotland Professor Sir Harry Burns, bacteriologist Professor Hugh Pennington and Professor George Crooks.

Mr Steele sits on the panel along with SPF colleague David Kennedy and the legal member is Professor Peter Watson of PBW Law.

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A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Police officers and staff are on the front line of our response to this public health crisis and have the Scottish Government’s full support.

“The Scottish Police Federation has an important role in supporting its members at this time and through the work of this panel we would encourage the SPF to work with Police Scotland to find solutions to challenging issues

“We are leading a cross-sector group on personal protective equipment (PPE). Through this group the Scottish Government will continue to work with partners such as Police Scotland to offer support and guidance.”