POLICE have confirmed they broke up a gathering of motorcyclists in the Borders last month amid concerns over potential lockdown rule-breaching.
Now police have confirmed that the group was spoken to by officers and the gathering then dispersed.
In a statement issued to the Peeblesshire News this week, Chief Inspector Vinnie Fisher said: “Officers on patrol stopped at a filling station in Innerleithen Road, Peebles, around noon on Sunday, February 28, after noticing a gathering of a group of motorcyclists.
“They engaged, offered advice and the group dispersed.
“We are aware of local concerns about people coming into Peebles from outwith the local authority area.
“Our approach is to engage with the public, explain the legislation and guidance, and encourage compliance, using enforcement as a last resort.
““If anyone has concerns about gatherings then I would ask them to contact us on 101 and report it so that officers can attend and give advice where necessary.
“The Chief Constable has made it clear that we are asking people to take personal responsibility to do the right thing and remember the purpose of these measures is to aid the collective effort to stay safe, protect others and save lives.”
At this month’s meeting of Peebles Community Council, Malcolm Bruce congratulated police officers for their continued efforts to crack down on visitors during the lockdown.
Following a monthly briefing with the community police sergeant, the community councillor said: “There was an incident which postdates the police report and gained coverage in the Peeblesshire News, about members of the community reporting a large gathering of motorcyclists at the filling station.
“I had a chat with Sergeant Granger around this because it was post the police report and I brought it to his attention.
“Suffice to say I didn’t need to bring it to his attention, he was already well aware of it because a retired senior ranking police officer who happens to live in the town also reported the incident directly to a senior police officer in headquarters.
“The worrying bit was the report in the Peeblesshire, was that part of this gathering of around about 12 motorcyclists, were two police motorcyclists, and that specifically was what I brought to Sergeant Granger’s attention.
“He very kindly undertook to basically establish the truth.
“If these cops were there, and as was suggested in the Peeblesshire, were not interacting with these other motorcyclists to establish whether they were in breach of COVID restrictions because they were from outwith the area, we just need to get to the truth of that.”
The meeting was told that police have detected mountain bikers at Glentress, and motorists in Kingsmeadows car park, who live outwith the Peebles area.
Mr Bruce was quick to heap praise on the police and their efforts in targeting people flouting the rules.
He added: “To give you a bit more confidence in what the police are doing about things like that, Sergeant Granger was very kind to copy into me a report that he’s put before his Chief Superintendent about police activity to deal with just this across the whole of the Borders last weekend.
“They routinely visit all the known tourist hotspots and they’ve had a mixed bag of detections of people from outwith the area.
“I really don’t envy them in this task, they’ve got to be in the right place at the right time, but from these reports, it would appear that when they are, they do detect people in flagrant breach of the COVID regulations.
“They are speaking to them and sending them on their way, and if conditions were appropriate, I’m quite sure they would have no hesitation in giving them a fixed penalty.
“I think we should congratulate the police for carrying on doing what is a very difficult job in very difficult circumstances.”