POLICE chiefs are using probationary officers to cover for colleagues who are off work due to a surge in Covid cases.

Soaring rates of infection caused by the Omicron variant have led to high levels of absence.

In response, Police Scotland is redeploying more than 500 officers into divisions across the country, although it was unable to provide details of how many of them will be based at local stations.

The total includes 258 probationary constables from the Scottish Police College, as well as more than 300 specialist officers who will temporarily be moved to frontline duties.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Speirs said the force is “working hard to maximise the availability of officers and staff.”

He added: “Omicron is having a significant effect on the country and Police Scotland is included in that.

“As a national service, we can quickly flex resources and move people to where they are needed and respond to increased demand and high absence levels.

“By deploying these extra resources, we can support local policing and keep people safe at this critical time.”