POLICE are out patrolling supermarket aisles today for "non-essential" shopping, despite a top cop's U-turn on his threat to search shopping trolleys.
In a now-deleted tweet, Cambridge Police said they patrolled a Tescos this morning and were pleased "non-essential aisles" were empty.
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The deleted tweet said: "Officers visited Tesco Barhill this morning as part of their patrols around supermarkets and green spaces this weekend.
"Good to see everyone was abiding by social distancing measures and the non essential aisles were empty."
Cambridge Police immediately came under scrunity as one person tweeted: "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."
Local MP Anthony Brown said: "Troubling you see such messages from @cambscops, who have so far shown common sense in maintaining order under social distancing.
"As long as social distancing is maintained, shoppers should not feel pressured away from any aisle. Will be raising this with Chief Constable."
The force then issued another tweet explaining it had been written "with good intentions by an over exuberant officer".
They wrote: "For clarification, the force position, in line with national guidance, is that we are not monitoring what people are buying from supermarkets.
"This message was sent with good intentions by an over exuberant officer who has been spoken to since this tweet was published.
"Whilst the majority of people in our communities are abiding by the social distancing measures we have had to issue a small number of fines to those who are flouting the rules. None of these have been in relation to shopping or supermarket visits."
It comes after Chief Constable Nick Adderley yesterday warned police could soon search shopping trolleys to check people were buying essential items.
The Northamptonshire Police chief claimed the public had enjoyed a "three-week grace period" and said his force will slap fines and arrest those caught outside for non-essential reasons.
He said: "We will not, at this stage, be setting up road blocks.
"We will not, at this stage, start to marshal supermarkets and check the items in baskets and trolleys to see whether it's a necessary item.
"But be under no illusion, if people do not heed the warnings and the pleas I'm making today, we will start to do that."
His comments sparked backlash as the National Police Chiefs Council later issued a press release saying: "The Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police has clarified his earlier statement about police checking people's shopping, confirming that this will not happen."
Mr Adderley also tweeted later: "I will keep reiterating the position, we will NOT be searching trolleys or baskets and we will not be determining what is and isn't an essential item.
"The point I was making was around the necessity of the journey."
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And last night Priti, 48, blasted the cop over his threat to snoop on the British public’s shopping baskets during the coronavirus lockdown in an exclusive interview.
She came on air just minutes after leaving yesterday’s emergency Cobra meeting and gave her first and only interview since the lockdown began.
When asked about the comments made by Northamptonshire’s Chief Constable Nick Adderley in a press conference, where he warned the public officers would stop and search their trolley's if they failed to adhere to the current lockdown measures, she said: “That is not appropriate, let me be clear about that.
“I work with the police and leadership every day of the week and have been since this crisis and leading up to this crisis
“That is not the guidance or the measures we have been adopting thus far.”
She went on to ask the public to adhere to the lockdown over the Easter weekend and praised the public for their reaction to measures put in place by the government so far.
Priti said: “I think what we should say about this weekend in particular, the weather is going to be good, it is Easter. We all need to take responsibility here. This is not about overreach.
“We had scurrilous stories a few weeks ago about officers snooping through baskets and removing Easter eggs and that became a trading standards issue.
“That is not what the police are there to do. As I said the police are there for public order.
“I will be very candid, not everyone will get this right. It will take a few weeks to have these measures bed in.
“We want our public spaces to be respected and utilised in the right way.
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“This is not about heavy handed law enforcement. I pay credit to the police, and the majority of the British public – these are extraordinary times.
“But the fact of the matter is, if you’re having a party or having a mass gathering do not be surprised if the police come up and ask you to stop.
“The police are using a common sense approach. Enforcement will always be used as a last resort.”
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