POLICE Scotland have said that there will be a doubling of its border presence as a "deterrent" - but have continued to rule out routine stops on vehicles to enforce a coronavirus travel ban between England and Scotland.

Some have questioned how the officers can actively enforce the new rules which prevent people from travelling between England and Scotland after Nicola Sturgeon announced the new restrictions on Saturday to curb the spread of a more infectious strain of Covid-19.

The chairman of the independent advisory group set up to oversee the police’s use of temporary powers during the coronavirus pandemic, John Scott QC, previously said enforcing a travel ban is “simply impossible”.

The First Minister said that in announcing the curbs that Police Scotland and transport operators were being asked to consider "how the enforcement of this can be strengthened in the period ahead."

She added: "Although, of course, how that is done is an operational matter for the Chief Constable."

But Police Scotland on Saturday said they had been "very clear that we will not be routinely stopping vehicles or setting up road blocks".

And after the force talked of boosting its presence along the border with England as a deterrent, Police Scotland said that had not changed, and that they would not be routinely stopping vehicles or setting up road blocks or check points.

Chief Constable lain Livingstone said that “highly visible patrols” on roads will be used to “deter anyone who might be considering breaching the coronavirus travel restrictions”.


The First Minister's severe lockdown measures for Scotland included a “strict travel ban” preventing travel to or from other parts of the UK, which was put in place last month but was due to be removed over the Christmas period.

Some exceptions to the ban are allowed for "the most essential purposes".

In a statement, Mr Livingstone said it would not be “appropriate or proportionate for officers to establish checkpoints or roadblocks to simply enforce travel restrictions”.

But he added: “Today, I have authorised the doubling of our operational presence in the Border areas of Scotland.

“These highly visible patrols will be proactively deployed on our road networks to continue our operational activity to ensure drivers and vehicles are in a fit condition to drive.

“The patrols will also deter anyone who night be considering breaching the coronavirus travel restrictions.”

He said he expects roads to be “quieter than usual over the coming days”.

“We have been clear throughout this public health crisis that your police service is here to support our collective effort to combat coronavirus.

“Though the rules have changed often and, at times, quickly, officers and staff will continue with common sense, empathy and discretion to work with our fellow citizens to help keep everyone safe.

“It is the consent of the public from which policing in Scotland draws its legitimacy.

“As our communities expect, where officers encounter wilful, persistent or flagrant breaches we will act decisively to enforce the law.”

The Herald asked Police Scotland how the police can actively enforce the travel ban between England and Scotland and in what circumstances officers would stop someone going over the border. The force did not answer the questions directly, instead referring to guidance about how officers would act when seeing people travel from one local authority to another, which state only that officers are expected to continue to use "common sense, discretion and excellent judgement" and that enforcement is used as "a last resort only where there is a clear breach of the legislation".

Current restrictions mean it is illegal to travel into or out of council areas in Level 3 or Level 4 without a valid exemption.

Police have the power to issue £60 fines to rule-breakers, although these are halved to £30 if paid within 28 days.

Repeat offenders can face penalties of up to £960.