The Scottish areas where police have had to repeatedly break up house parties
Police officers in Scotland are repeatedly visiting the same houses to break up parties, new data from Police Scotland reveals.
The statistics, obtained by BBC Scotland, show officers have been called out nearly 5,000 times since they were granted new powers in August 2020.
At one party in Glasgow, police found the host had previously been issued with two fixed penalty notices (FPNs), while at another in North East Scotland, six people were given warnings after being caught at two different parties on the same night.
Party-goers in Ayrshire tried escaping by jumping out of the windows of a house as officers arrived. It was the second time they had been called to the property in question.
Police Scotland said the true number of house parties is likely to be even greater than figures show, since the force only counts formal call-outs and not incidents spotted while on patrol.
Between August and November, officers issued more than 2,000 fines and made 279 arrests for coronavirus law breaches.
Glasgow North West topped the list of areas for police callouts, with 410 during the period.
Edinburgh South East was the area with the second-highest number of callouts, at 247, with Glasgow South West ranked third, with 128.
Police Scotland data suggests that 84 per cent of the 365 parties that took place in the week covering Halloween and Bonfire Night were in breach of Covid-19 rules.
Records show that police were tipped off about one party in Glasgow that week, where officers found 200 people present - none of whom were wearing face masks or socially distancing.
The force issues more than 60 fines to attendees.
In a separate incident, more than 20 people attended a party in Dundee, with many of them fleeing through the back garden as officers arrived.
Police Scotland declined to comment when asked whether the number of incidents suggested enforcement measures like fixed penalty notices were a sufficient deterrent.
Announcing the new powers for officers this summer, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the extended powers were essential to make sure the public followed social distancing restrictions consistently.
Police records also highlighted concerns about the use of social media to promote large-scale illegal parties.
Forth Valley police were alerted to an on-going party near Bonnybridge which had been advertised on social media. Officers found a 48-seater bus and more than 100 attendees at the event.
Meanwhile in Edinburgh, organisers advertised the location of a party, which was eventually broken up by police, on social media 24 hours before it started.
Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said: "Where officers encounter wilful and persistent breaches they will act decisively to enforce the law - this includes consideration of serious charges including culpable and reckless conduct.
"The chief constable has repeatedly underlined that house parties and relatively small gatherings can have a significant influence on spreading the virus and are not permitted."
A Police Scotland spokesperson said the force “will continue to explain the rules to the public and encourage people to take personal responsibility and do the right thing".
A Scottish government spokesman added: "Ministers have been consistently clear that we want to see these laws work through high levels of public compliance, rather than relying on enforcement."
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.
If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.