A day after a police force threatened to snoop through people’s shopping baskets, officers elsewhere have taken it upon themselves to decide what count as ‘non-essential aisles’ in supermarkets.

Police in Cambridge tweeted a picture outside Tesco Barhill during their patrols of supermarkets and green spaces. They said: ‘Good to see everyone was abiding by social distancing measures and the non essential aisles were empty’.

The police force has not responded to say what counts as non-essential or why they believe they have the power to decide what people should and should not be buying.

However, their tweet was met with anger with one person stating: ‘The law doesn’t forbid the purchase of non-essential items when also shopping for essentials such as food. Your officers time could be better spent, and over-stepping the law like this harms public confidence in the police.’

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Yesterday Nottinghamshire Police Chief Constable, Nick Adderley, came in for criticism after threatening that his force was ‘a few days away’ from looking in shopping trolleys to see what people had bought.

Another police force apologised after an officer told a dad that he could not play in his front garden with his children during the lockdown.

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Urging people to stay indoors, Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Nick Dean, said: ‘Our approach is to engage and encourage people to go home but if people still won’t comply we will act. Only five fines in the past 48 hours which shows the vast majority of people are taking this very seriously, thank you.’

He added: ‘Our message is clear, please continue to stay in and help us save lives.

‘We have already had a great response from communities in Cambridgeshire, who are doing their bit to stick to the lockdown restrictions and help us protect our precious NHS.

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‘We will be out across the county over the weekend ensuring people continue to comply. Where there are cases where people refuse we will engage with those people and if we have to use the powers available to us.

‘People may not think it but by staying in they are really making a difference. This disease does not discriminate, we are all at risk and we have a responsibility to do everything we can to protect people.

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