Seventeen people have been fined for ignoring social distancing rules during lockdown in Lanarkshire.

This puts the county fourth highest in the country after Greater Glasgow (46), North East (20) and Ayrshire (18).

This comes as Police Scotland's Chief Constable Iain Livingstone thanked the public for their "overwhelming support and co-operation" through the first week of new social distancing regulations.

He insisted these unprecedented measures were designed to save lives and protect the NHS during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Across the whole of Scotland, officers issued just 144 fixed penalty notices between Friday, March 27 and Wednesday, April 1 under the new legislation underpinning the important guidance.

With the vast majority of people complying with social distancing guidelines, officers were required to issue fixed penalty notices where individuals persistently flouted the regulations or refused to co-operate with requests to comply.

During one incident in East Kilbride three people were fined for failing to comply with government lockdown rules.

Police were called to a property in Seymour Green in Westwood on Tuesday, March 31 after receiving intelligence that two people were unlawfully visiting another person's property.

The 39-year-old male householder and his two guests, a 36-year-old female and 44-year-old male, failed to heed police advice and were ticketed.

The Chief Constable said: "People recognise that it is their duty to adhere to these guidelines to protect their fellow citizens, ease the strain on the health service, and collectively save lives.

"Everyone must contribute to the national effort to respond to the coronavirus outbreak and I am grateful to the vast majority who have made significant changes to their daily habits and routines.

"I expect the high levels of co-operation to continue as awareness and understanding of the guidance increases. Stay indoors, stay safe, protect the NHS, and save lives.

"The Police Service of Scotland will continue to play its part, engaging with people, establishing their individual circumstances and explaining the risks to public health of failing to comply with guidance. Officers and the public must take a common sense approach to this unique emergency.

"We will always encourage compliance but, as a last resort, we will use the enforcement powers which are in place."

The Coronavirus Act 2020 allows officers to enforce the testing of individuals with suspected coronavirus. It also allows for the closure of events, gatherings and premises.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 allow officers to close businesses and premises which flout the government’s guidance. The regulations give officers the power to enforce social distancing among the wider public, with the sanction of penalty notices where there has been an offence. 

Police Scotland can issue penalty notices of £60, reduced to £30 if paid within 28 days, where they have reason to believe there has been an offence under the regulations. Due to the exceptional nature of these powers, the regulations will be reviewed at least every 21 days to ensure they are still necessary.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: "Everyone should be staying at home wherever possible and I am hugely encouraged by the high levels of compliance around the country after the first week of these rules being in force.

"These rules are in place to slow down the spread of COVID-19 which will protect the NHS and save lives. While Police Scotland have powers of enforcement, I expect that these will be used only as a last resort, and that the vast majority of people will use their common sense and play a full part in this country-wide effort."

National Clinical Director Jason Leitch said: "The best way of slowing down the spread of coronavirus is social distancing, so I must thank Police Scotland for working with members of the public to keep them safe and encourage them to comply with these regulations. 

"I would remind everyone that if you do have to leave your house for any of the essential reasons – food, medicine, care, exercise or work, and you absolutely cannot do them at home – then please stay two metres away from people you don’t live with, and keep human contact as limited as possible."

Divisional breakdown of Fixed Penalty Notices issued from March 27 to April 1:

A - North East (20)C - Forth Valley (6)D - Tayside (1)E - Edinburgh (4)G - Greater Glasgow (46)J - The Lothians & Scottish Borders (9)K - Renfrewshire & Inverclyde (8)L - Argyll & West Dunbartonshire (9)N - Highland & Islands (1)P - Fife (4)Q - Lanarkshire (17)U - Ayrshire (18)V - Dumfries & Galloway (1).