Priti Patel has said it is “not appropriate” for police officers to check shopping bags during lockdown in an exclusive interview with talkRADIO.
Speaking with Dan Wootton on his drive time show, the Home Secretary said implementing the new coronavirus restrictions is “not about heavy handed law enforcement”.
Her comments came after Northamptonshire Police chief Nick Adderley said his force could be “days away” from checking that shoppers are only buying essential items in a bid to curb lockdown rule breakers.
“That’s not appropriate, let me be clear about that,” the Witham MP said.
“I work with the policing leadership every single day of the week and have been since this crisis and even working into this crisis as well.
“That is not the guidance, that is not down to the measures that we have been adopting thus far.”
In her first interview since the coronavirus crisis took hold, Ms Patel paid tribute to the “majority of the British public” who had been respecting the social distancing guidelines and urged them to continue to do so over the Easter weekend.
She also praised the police, telling Dan: "Not everybody's going to get it right".
“This is not about heavy handed law enforcement, I think I really must emphasise that.
“There is a balance in this and I do pay credit to the police because these are extraordinary times.
“They exercise their judgement, policing by consent means that officers, based on guidance, exercise their judgement on the scenarios and the situations and the circumstances that they are in.”
Ms Patel’s interview came just before Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab led the government’s daily press briefing, where he told the nation it was “still too early” to know whether lockdown restrictions could be eased.
The measures, put in place three weeks ago, are due to be reviewed next week, but ministers have said they will likely be extended.
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