A bungling police chief who contradicted official government guidance by warning that officers could search shopping trollies for nonessential items has retracted his comments.
Nick Adderley, chief constable of Northamptonshire, warned the public not to buy nonessential items from supermarkets and claimed that if people continued to do so, officers would start to check baskets and trolleys.
"We will not at this stage be starting to marshal supermarkets and check the items in baskets and trolleys to see whether it is a legitimate and necessary item," he said, "but again, be under no illusion, if people do not heed the warnings and pleas that I'm making today, we will start to do that."
Adderley's comments went against government advice. Downing Street said on Thursday that people were free to buy whatever is on the shelves of the shops that are remaining open.
Home secretary Priti Patel criticised Adderley's comments. "That's not appropriate, let me clear about that," she told TalkRadio. "That is not the guidance."
Former justice secretary David Gauke condemned the "worrying and unacceptable authoritarian" remarks.
Following criticism of his comments, Adderley issued a retraction, clarifying that "we will not be judge and jury on what is an essential item or not".
But the Northamptonshire police Twitter account then wrongly claimed that his clarification was made to correct "suggestions made in the media", when in fact Adderley made the remarks himself, on camera.
Ministers have privately raised concerns that some police forces have been heavy-handed and going beyond government guidance during the lockdown of the last two weeks.
Derbyshire Police was heavily criticised for using drones to target people going for walks in the Peak District.
BuzzFeed News has approached Northamptonshire police for comment.