PEOPLE with autism or learning disabilities struggling with lockdown have been stopped by cops on daily walks despite new guidance issued by the Scottish Government, a charity has said.

The ‘Stay at Home’ rules from the Scottish Government now allow for people with autism or a learning disability to leave home more than once a day to exercise or travel for health reasons. The rules also mean they do not have to stay two metres apart from carers.

Despite this new guidance, a number of autistic people and their families claim they have been told to go home by police, or face being threatened with fines.

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Julie Johnston, from the city’s Garrowhill, was walking with her son, Peter, 30, in Drumpellier Park when she was stopped by police officers.

She said: “Peter has autism and a learning disability and is really struggling to understand the lock down and why he can’t go out.

“We were stopped by the Police and told ‘essential travel only’. They didn’t seem to know about the change in rules for autistic people and it was understandable really upsetting for us all.

“I am trying my hardest to look after my son and taking all the precautions I can to make sure he doesn’t get sick. We’re not taking liberties at all.

"I really hope that the message gets across to all police officers so families with autistic people can travel outside of their local area to exercise safely should they need to. It makes such a difference.”

Nick Ward, Director of the National Autistic Society Scotland said the charity has written to Chief Constable Iain Thomas Livingstone asking that police officers are made aware of changes.

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Nick said: “We welcome the amended rules from the Scottish Government but are extremely concerned not all Police officers are aware of the changes or are interpreting them correctly.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Officers are being asked to use common sense in their approach with members of the public. They will explain the legislation, encourage compliance and use enforcement only where necessary.

“ As we become aware of examples where engagement with the public is not of that nature then officers are reminded that our approach must be fair, reasonable and proportionate.”