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Covid-19 (Personal Protective Equipment for Police Officers)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 17th April 2020.

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Photo of Liam Kerr Liam Kerr Conservative

Police officers are on the front line and they must have the correct kit. I understand that officers have been issued with single-use surgical masks, with a promise that those will protect them. However, the Scottish Police Federation is clear in its view that those masks do not offer that protection. What is the evidence referred to in Police Scotland’s press release yesterday, and will the Cabinet Secretary for Justice publish that evidence?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

First and foremost, the full, enhanced personal protective equipment includes filtering face-piece masks. Police Scotland have sufficient levels of stock. That type of mask is used when police officers have a high risk of being in contact with someone who displays potential Covid-19 symptoms. For all other situations, in which for example it may not be possible to apply social distancing measures, because of the activities that the police carry out, surgical masks of the type that Liam Kerr refers to will be made available.

That is very much based on and aligned with the public health guidance that has been issued not only here in Scotland but by Public Health England. Therefore the guidance that applies United Kingdom-wide, or four nations-wide, is also being applied here; it is also no different from the guidance that has been issued to police forces in England and Wales.

I saw the Scottish Police Federation’s concerns in the press. I understand that those were based on advice that it had received from the expert panels that it had put together. I have not seen that advice, but I note that the federation has said that it will make it public shortly. I look forward to receiving that, at which point I will be more than happy to feed it into Health Protection Scotland for it to take a view on.

Let me absolutely clear that, having spoken to the chief constable almost daily, I know that the safety of his officers and staff and, of course, of the public is paramount in his mind.