POLICE have been forced to break up dozens of illegal house parties in North Ayrshire in the last few months.

The area has been a hotspot for illegal gatherings that breach household restrictions, according to details released by police.

A freedom of information request has revealed that Police Scotland have been called out to 36 gatherings that violated coronavirus rules between 28 August and 14 October.

There were 14 fixed penalty notices issued to partygoers in the same period, more than Glasgow East and Glasgow North, but slightly less than East Dunbartonshire.

Like much of the central belt, Ayrshire as a whole saw a rise in the number of illegal parties attended by police following the ban on indoor visits on September 23.

Across the country, more than 420 fines have been issued and 83 arrests made in relation to illegal gatherings.

Largs-based MSP Jamie Greene says he is disappointed at the figures, and is reminding residents to follow the rules.

He said: “The current restrictions on freedoms are unwelcome but necessary sacrifices we have to make to tackle the virus and protect the most vulnerable in our society

“We’ll only get through this by working together so I would urge everybody to follow the guidance in place.”

Police officers were given new powers at the end of August to break up large house parties which went against restrictions.

Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham says his officers will not hesitate to take action locally if necessary.

He said: "The majority of people have been complying with the law in North Ayrshire and we know that public confidence in the policing approach we have taken is high.

“Our approach throughout the pandemic has been to engage with the public, explain the legislation and guidance, and encourage compliance, only using enforcement as a last resort.

“We will continue with that approach, but we will not hesitate to use enforcement action where it is necessary."

Figures show that Glasgow North West is the key hotspot for illegal parties in Scotland, with 92 recorded in the last few months.