- A UK police chief threatened that his officers were just "days away" from checking that items purchased from shops are "necessary" and "legitimate" during the coronavirus lockdown.
- Northamptonshire Police Chief Constable Nick Adderley told reporters that the public should be "under no illusions" that he would enforce tough restrictions during the coronavirus lockdown.
- However, the UK's emergency coronavirus legislation law does not authorise police officers to check people's shopping.
- Adderley later backtracked and withdrew his threat to impose the checks.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
A UK police chief threatened that his officers would start checking people's shopping trolleys for items that are not "necessary" and "legitimate" if the public do not start following coronavirus lockdown rules.
Northamptonshire Police Chief Constable Nick Adderley warned on Thursday that his force was just "days away" from implementing the restrictions.
Speaking at a press conference he said: "We will not, at this stage, be setting up roadblocks. 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."
Watch UK police chief threaten to check shopping trolleys
—Richard Taylor (@RTaylorUK) April 9, 2020
Emergency legislation passed by the UK government last month has enforced the closure of most shops and public premises in the UK.
However, it did not give the police powers to prevent members of the public from purchasing items judged by officers to be non-essential in shops that remain open.
After the clip of Adderley's comments spread on social media, the Chief Constable sought to backtrack from his earlier threats.
"To be clear on the shopping trolley issue: This is about essential and necessary journeys, not what's in your trolley," he tweeted.
"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."
A UK government spokesman on Thursday also made it clear that the police do not have the power to prevent people from purchasing "nonessential" items like Easter Eggs.
"Shops that are still open are free to sell any items they have in stock," the spokesman said.
"What we've set out is that there shouldn't be any unnecessary travel taking place. I think the guidelines on that are very clear."
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