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Police ‘days away’ from checking shopping trolleys as lockdown rules flouted

PA Media logoPA Media 09/04/2020 By Josh Payne, PA
a person riding on the back of a truck: Police stop to move on a couple with a pram on Primrose Hill, London, during the lockdown (PA) © Aaron Chown Police stop to move on a couple with a pram on Primrose Hill, London, during the lockdown (PA)

A police chief has said his force is only “a few days away” from introducing measures such as road blocks and searching shopping trolleys as people continue to flout the coronavirus regulations.

Northamptonshire Police Chief Constable Nick Adderley said a “three-week grace period” is over in the county – and the force will now be issuing fines and arresting people breaking the rules.

He said further measures will also be implemented should people continue to flout the regulations – including “marshalling” supermarkets and checking the items in baskets and trolleys.

a man looking at the camera: Northamptonshire Police chief Nick Adderley said all action his officers take is about saving lives (Jake King/PA) © Provided by PA Media Northamptonshire Police chief Nick Adderley said all action his officers take is about saving lives (Jake King/PA)

Mr Adderley said forces are “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” when it comes to policing the new rules, and he added that Government guidance on how to police the rules “could be even clearer”.

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Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, he said: “I really need to emphasise the point, this is about saving people’s lives, this is the really serious end of what we do.

“The role of the police is to preserve lives and protect property and we have to do that and we will do that.

Related: Coronavirus hits UK (Photos)

“If things don’t improve, and we don’t get the compliance we would expect, then the next stage will be road blocks and it will be stopping people to ask why they are going, where they’re going.

“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.

a screenshot of a cell phone: (PA Graphics) © Provided by PA Media (PA Graphics)

“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.”

He stressed the force is “only a few days away” from that point.

On the clarity of Government guidance on policing the regulations, Mr Adderley said: “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?”

Stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading - here is what you can and can't do. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland, anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.

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