THERE were 46 fixed penalty notices and 53 charges for breaching COVID restrictions in Dunfermline in the past year.

Police Scotland said they also stepped up patrols at 'hotspots' in the town after a "significant" rise in anti-social behaviour incidents, particularly among 12- to 16-year-olds.

The force will give a report on their activities between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, at the City of Dunfermline area committee on Tuesday.

In it, Chief Inspector Yvonne Stenhouse says: "This has been a challenging time for the police, having to adapt quickly to new legislation that was continuously under review and was subject to change as we moved through the various stages of the roadmap phases.

"The community team contributed significantly to engaging with the public regarding the 4Es (Engage, Explain, Encourage, Enforce) and there was a great deal of public support for the police."

Crime figures for the 12 months are "currently unavailable" but there were almost 100 fixed penalty notices and charges related to lockdown breaches.

She said: "The majority of these related to householders having multiple people in their home, when there were restrictions on the numbers that could be present, or householders having persons from outwith their household indoors, when meeting indoors was no longer allowed."

The report says that, throughout the pandemic, calls to the police about breaches of coronavirus restrictions were recorded under anti-social behaviour and there had been a "significant rise" in incidents.

Ch Insp Shorthouse said: "We will continue to robustly deal with individuals who engage in such conduct.

"In conjunction with Fife Council safer communities officers, we have, and will continue to, patrol areas identified as local ‘hotspots’.

"It is acknowledged there have been issues of Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) in the area of Pittencrieff Park, the Public Park, Calais Woods and the town centre.

"During the reporting period, it has been noted there has been increase of ASB by young people aged between 12-16 years of age."

She said the force's response, Operation Spring, led to more patrols and "the majority of crimes being detected, youths being dispersed from large groups and parents informed of their behaviour".

Another idea is a youth engagement project that could see a 'gaming trailer’ taken into local communities or areas where there has been trouble involving young people.

COVID also disrupted operations for the police with drug busts shelved in the early days of the pandemic.

The chief inspector said: "We receive a great deal of intelligence regarding drug misuse and dealing which assists in our ability to disrupt illegal activity.

"There was a period when proactive work was suspended but this has been back up and running since the summer of 2020 with 13 drug search warrants being executed in the Dunfermline area during the reporting period.

"Of note, one of the drug searches resulted in a male recently receiving a five-year jail sentence."

Another unwelcome aspect of the pandemic has been online fraud which has "increased significantly" – a trend replicated across the country.

She said: "Work is ongoing to highlight online scams to the public to make sure they are aware of what to be cautious of.

"We have also carried out leaflet drops to the more vulnerable members of our community."

Due to COVID restrictions and pubs, clubs and restaurants having to close, initiatives such as the town centre 'safe zone' and taxi and bus marshals were not required.

Pubwatch has continued and the police and council are hoping to apply for purple flag status – which promotes night-time safety – later this year.