The chief constable of Northamptonshire police, Nick Adderley, has said the force will now ramp up the enforcement of coronavirus regulations.
Adderley said the “three-week grace period is over”, and people in the county could now face fines or a criminal record.
According to the police chief, a small number of people had been flouting the regulations – with some officers being “baited” by members of the public.
He said the force may have to resort to more extreme measures such as road blocks and searching shopping trolleys should people continue to break the rules.
Speaking about the new approach, Adderley said:
These are not guidelines anymore. This is the law. We haven’t issued any fixed penalty notices, but we have charged a number of people with Covid-related offences.
We’ve had examples of people sunbathing in the park, having barbecues in the park, we’ve had large gatherings of family members.
To those people, I am saying: your time is up.
Not long after this news broke, Northants police issued a rather hurried clarification in which they said:
“…we absolutely will NOT be searching people’s shopping trolleys in Northamptonshire.
The same message was communicated to our officers from the very moment we were given these new powers…”