Police have warned the UK is close to seeing people have their shopping trolleys checked to enforce the coronavirus lockdown.
Northamptonshire Police Chief Constable Nick Adderley said Government rules ‘could be clearer’.
But he also suggested more stringent measures could be brought in to ensure people stay in their homes.
Warm weather is expected this Easter weekend and the fear is it could encourage citizens to move about.
Speaking earlier today, Chief Constable Nick Adderley said police couldn’t win when it comes to taking action.
He warned: “If things don’t improve, and we don’t get the compliance we would expect, then the next stage will be road blocks.
If people do not heed the warnings, we will start to do that.
“And it will be stopping people to ask why they are going, where they’re going.”
He continued: “This is about reasonableness and if people are not reasonable in terms of the journeys and the trips they are taking, they are going to fall foul of the law.
“We will not, at this stage, be setting up road blocks.
“We will not, at this stage, start to marshal supermarkets and checking the items in baskets and trolleys to see whether it’s a legitimate, necessary item.
“But again, be under no illusion, if people do not heed the warnings and the pleas I’m making today, we will start to do that.”
Road blocks within days?
He also emphasised police efforts to ‘save people’s lives’ and that such measures could be only ‘a few days away’.
However, the senior officer later seemed to backtrack on Twitter.
He tweeted: “To be clear on the shopping trolley issue: this is about essential and necessary journeys, not what’s in your trolley.
“I have been clear that we will not be judge and jury on what is an essential item or not, but we may now probe the purpose of the journey.”
‘What is a necessity?’
Chief Constable Adderley did however admit that government guidance could be misinterpreted during the press conference.
“The law itself in terms of the five or six points that have come out in terms of the Coronavirus Bill – they are quite simple in terms of their narrative.
“But the interpretation of that is very, very difficult.
“The issue about, what is a necessary item, only go out for necessities – what is a necessity?
“If we’re stopping somebody because they’ve bought a barbecue set or they’ve bought a child’s toy, you could argue that’s not necessary.
“On the other hand, you could argue it absolutely is necessary – because in terms of the mental health and trying to keep people entertained over this period of lockdown, that is very necessary.
“So the nuances and the interpretation is really ambiguous – that’s why I’m saying to officers, use your common sense, use your discretion.
“I think the guidance could be even clearer, but it’s where do you draw the line?”
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