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Coronavirus UK: Police order sunbathers off beach with tannoys

Lockdown rebels have been ordered off the beach and out of parks by police with loudspeakers today as hundreds continued to ignore social distancing rules to lie in 77F sunshine.

It comes as Downing Street has been forced to warn police officers against ‘heavy-handed’ lockdown tactics after officers admitted to prowling through supermarket aisles in a bid to catch shoppers buying ‘non-essential’ items.

Police forces across the country have been accused of being over-zealous in their Easter weekend crackdown as they threatened to check through people’s shopping, causing #policestateUK to trend on Twitter.

The warning saw Downing Street warn police today that ‘if a shop is open then it will sell whatever it has in stock’, while Home Secretary Priti Patel called on officers not to be ‘heavy-handed’ during the coronavirus lockdown. 

This is while Health Secretary Matt Hancock also urged people to stay at home over the Easter Weekend, after many people indulged in sunbathing and playing sports today on beaches and parks up and down the country. 

Sunbathing Brits on Hove beach on the south coast were threatened with arrest by police, pictured, after not moving on when told to

People were seen having fun in the sun this afternoon on Brighton beach despite strict rules in place from the government

People were seen having fun in the sun this afternoon on Brighton beach despite strict rules in place from the government

Hundreds of people, including these two pictured today in London's Hyde Park, continued to ignore the lockdown rules to take advantage of the sunny weather

Hundreds of people, including these two pictured today in London’s Hyde Park, continued to ignore the lockdown rules to take advantage of the sunny weather

A woman sunbathing in London's Primrose Hill today, pictured, is spoken to by police as part of efforts to enforce the government's lockdown policy

A woman sunbathing in London’s Primrose Hill today, pictured, is spoken to by police as part of efforts to enforce the government’s lockdown policy

The widespread action in public places, pictured, comes as Downing Street has been forced to warn police officers against 'heavy-handed' lockdown tactics

The widespread action in public places, pictured, comes as Downing Street has been forced to warn police officers against ‘heavy-handed’ lockdown tactics

Temperatures are expected to hit 77F (25C) today, with highs of 79F (26C) forecast for Saturday. Sunday could see some thunder in the afternoon

Temperatures are expected to hit 77F (25C) today, with highs of 79F (26C) forecast for Saturday. Sunday could see some thunder in the afternoon

It comes as Cambridge Police’s official Twitter account boasted that officers had visited a local superstore this morning to snoop on shoppers and found aisles selling non-essentials were ’empty’.

The tweet caused outrage from social media users, with many pointing to a post sent by the same account hours earlier thanking a local chocolate shop for dropping off a ‘generation donation of goodies’ at its police station. 

Meanwhile a viral video showed a South Yorkshire police officer scolding a family on their own doorstep for letting their young children play on their front lawn.

The force later apologised for the encounter, which it called ‘well-intentioned but ill-informed’, after the officer told the young family: ‘You do not want your children getting the virus, it does not stop in front of your garden.’ 

Warnings that officers would stop and search those venturing out during the four-day break saw Britain’s roads left eerily quiet on Good Friday, on what is usually one of the busiest days of the year for car journeys. 

Motorways, usually teeming with millions of holidaymakers making their way to seaside resorts, were left deserted this morning as top cops warned they would set up road blocks to grill motorists on why they were not at home. 

Police chiefs yesterday called for laws to ban Britons from driving long distances and flouting rules to exercise more than once a day ahead of a 77F (25C) Easter weekend.

Cambridge Police’s tweet in which it gloated of prowling through non-essential aisles was met with anger by many on social media. 

The tweet read: ‘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.’

But in a follow-up on Twitter the force said the initial post, which has since been deleted, was made by an ‘over exuberant officer’ and that its position was in line with national guidance. 

‘For clarification, the force position, in line with national guidance, is that we are not monitoring what people are buying from supermarkets,’ it said. 

Young people were spotted sneaking into trees this afternoon, pictured, at West Cliff Green in Bournemouth, Dorset

Young people were spotted sneaking into trees this afternoon, pictured, at West Cliff Green in Bournemouth, Dorset

Crowds of people still flocked to London's Hyde Park today, pictured, despite the clear orders to stay inside amid the coronavirus pandemic

Crowds of people still flocked to London’s Hyde Park today, pictured, despite the clear orders to stay inside amid the coronavirus pandemic

Some lockdown rebels, pictured, decided to take a dip in the sea off the coast of Brighton amid the soaring temperatures

Some lockdown rebels, pictured, decided to take a dip in the sea off the coast of Brighton amid the soaring temperatures

A substantial police presence has been in force throughout the day, pictured, to crack down on those flouting the rules

A substantial police presence has been in force throughout the day, pictured, to crack down on those flouting the rules

‘This message was sent with good intentions by an over exuberant officer who has been spoken to since this tweet was published.’

The force added that while it has had to issue a small number of fines to those ignoring lockdown guidance, none of these were in relation to shopping or supermarket visits.

Among those to chastise the post was Pip Moss, who wrote: ‘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.’

Another user added: ‘One day you’re going to have to look back on all this and tell people that in the midst of crisis you chose to spend your time patrolling around looking to enforce laws that didn’t exist.’ 

At a press conference today, Mr Hancock said in order to stay safe over the Easter Weekend it would need a ‘national effort’.

‘This Easter will be another test of the nation’s resolve. It’s a time of year when people normally come together.

‘But however warm the weather, however tempting your local beach or park, we need everyone to stay at home.

‘Because in hospitals across the country, NHS staff are battling day and night to keep desperately sick people breathing, and they need you to stay at home.’

Speaking yesterday, Northamptonshire Police said the ‘three-week grace period is over’ and threatened that they may even soon start ‘checking the items in baskets and trolleys’.

Its Chief Constable Nick Adderley said: ‘We will not at this stage be starting to marshal supermarkets and checking the items in baskets and trolleys to see whether it’s a legitimate and necessary item. 

‘But again, be under no illusion, if people do not heed the warnings, and the pleas that I’m making, we will start to do that.’

And he added: ‘If things don’t improve, and we don’t get the compliance we would expect, then the next stage will be road blocks and it will be stopping people to ask why they are going, where they’re going.’ 

But asked about the prospect of police officers potentially checking shopping trolleys, Ms Patel told TalkRADIO: ‘That is not appropriate, let me be clear on that… that is not the guidance.’

Officers in Windermere, Cumbria, are already sending people in camper vans home, while locals in St Ives, Cornwall, blocked some roads to protect vulnerable residents.   

A video shows a South Yorkshire police officer scolding a family on their own doorstep for letting their young children play on their lawn during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has killed 7,978 people in the UK so far

Cambridge Police's official Twitter account boasted this morning that officers had visited a local superstore and found aisles selling non-essentials such as barbecues and sun loungers were 'empty'

Cambridge Police’s official Twitter account boasted this morning that officers had visited a local superstore and found aisles selling non-essentials such as barbecues and sun loungers were ’empty’

A before and after comparison shows Lyme Regis beach in Dorset, both today as it lies almost completely empty (left), and at this time last year when it was teeming with holidaymakers (right)

The M5 motorway in Worcester, Worcestershire, which is normally busy during the Easter bank holiday getaway, is quiet as the UK continues in lockdown to reduce the spread of coronavirus

The M5 motorway in Worcester, Worcestershire, which is normally busy during the Easter bank holiday getaway, is quiet as the UK continues in lockdown to reduce the spread of coronavirus

Durham Police were castigated by social media users after seemingly suggesting that people should not be using their bicycles to exercise this weekend, in contrary to current government advice 

A police officer walks up and down Brighton beach asking people to move on during the coronavirus lockdown this Good Friday

A police officer walks up and down Brighton beach asking people to move on during the coronavirus lockdown this Good Friday

A shopper makes her way home after picking up some paint today. Discount website Vouchercodes said it had seen a 445 per cent increase in the search for DIY equipment in the week-long lead up to the Easter weekend

A shopper makes her way home after picking up some paint today. Discount website Vouchercodes said it had seen a 445 per cent increase in the search for DIY equipment in the week-long lead up to the Easter weekend

The Cotswold village of Bibury, usually teeming with holidaymakers during the Easter weekend, is deserted after it was closed to visitors today

The Cotswold village of Bibury, usually teeming with holidaymakers during the Easter weekend, is deserted after it was closed to visitors today

Police have also created online forms for people to report potential breaches of the lockdown which was imposed on March 23 to slow the spread of the deadly disease.

Britons load-up for lockdown weekend: Sales of Easter eggs, wine, barbecues and paddling pools soar by up to 4,000% 

Sales of paddling pools and barbecues have skyrocketed in the lead up to the Easter weekend as Brits prepare for a sun-drenched lockdown in the back garden after police threatened to stomp out all non-essential travel.

Sunny forecasts for the weekend has seen sun loungers and parasols sell out on online websites, as officers warned they would go through peoples’ shopping for ‘non-essential items’ if they dared to venture outside to shop.

Amazon reported a 4,000 per cent rise in the sale of paddling pools in the last 24 hours, while Waitrose saw a threefold increase in the sale of yoga equipment as Brits 

Brits are also continuing to load up on food and drink, with Hotel Chocolat revealing that it had seen a 400 per cent increase in online orders for Easter eggs, while Thorntons had seen a similarly ‘dramatic increase’.  

Alcohol sales are still rising, too, with wine sales in supermarkets and corner shops jumping up by 22 per cent in March, according to consumer analysts Kantar.

Discount website Vouchercodes said it had seen a 445 per cent increase in the search for DIY equipment in the week-long lead up to the Easter weekend, as well as a 565 per cent rise in searches for gardening equipment.

 

Merseyside Police said it will begin randomly stopping cars in its area to ensure drivers are sticking to lockdown rules ahead of the weekend. 

Home Secretary Priti Patel, who has not been seen or heard in public since March 23, said in an unexpected radio interview this evening that police must not act in a ‘heavy-handed’ manner during the coronavirus lockdown. 

She also said the government will ‘absolutely not’ be increasing police powers amid concerns about the way in which some officers have interpreted government guidance on breaking up groups and stopping journeys.

Mr Adderley said forces are ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ when it comes to implementing the lockdown rules, and said the government guidance ‘could be even clearer’. 

Reacting to the trolley claims made by Mr Adderley, ex-justice secretary David Gauke said they were ‘wholly inappropriate’ and reveal ‘worrying and unacceptable authoritarian instincts.’ 

Civil liberties campaigners were also furious, with Big Brother Watch director Silkie Carlo stating the ‘suggestion of police rummaging through people’s shopping trolleys is outrageous’ as she questioned what the legal basis would be for doing so.

Mr Adderley later attempted to clarify his remarks, tweeting: ‘To be clear on the shopping trolley issue: This is about essential and necessary journeys, not what’s in your trolley. 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.’

The police have the power to issue fines to people who gather in groups during the lockdown. People are only supposed to go outside for food, medicine, to get to work, or for exercise once a day. 

The emergency Coronavirus Act gave police powers to impose restrictions on ‘events and gatherings’ and it has been suggested that this could be used by forces in an attempt to justify road blocks.  

However, the law does not include any provision that could force people to require prior permission, show paperwork, or demonstrate reasonable cause for leaving their home.

Police forces in Cambridgeshire, London, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Kent and Avon and Somerset have all brought in online services for the public to report potential breaches of the lockdown rules. 

The announcement on the online forms from Cambridgeshire Constabulary faced some criticism online, with one person describing it as a ‘revolting’ idea.

But a spokesman for the force urged people to only use the form ‘if there is a significant issue or breach’.

 

The M25 near Dartford in Kent was also eerily quiet this morning (right) compared to the busy traffic of the four-day holiday last year (left)

Sales of gardening and DIY items have skyrocketed (shown today) as Brits prepare for a sun-drenched lockdown in the back garden after police threatened to stomp out all non-essential travel

Sales of gardening and DIY items have skyrocketed (shown today) as Brits prepare for a sun-drenched lockdown in the back garden after police threatened to stomp out all non-essential travel

A busy Richmond riverside is pictured today as people enjoy their daily allowance of exercise ahead of a four-day Bank Holiday weekend in Britain

A busy Richmond riverside is pictured today as people enjoy their daily allowance of exercise ahead of a four-day Bank Holiday weekend in Britain

The M25 near Dartford in Kent was also eerily quiet this morning (right) compared to the busy traffic of the four-day holiday last year (left)

Police (shown in central London today) have been accused of being over-zealous in their approach as they threatened to set up road blocks to grill motorists on why they were not at home, causing #policestateUK to trend on Twitter

Police (shown in central London today) have been accused of being over-zealous in their approach as they threatened to set up road blocks to grill motorists on why they were not at home, causing #policestateUK to trend on Twitter

Police forces in beauty spots across Britain have reported seeing visitors travel long distances from their homes to enjoy the recent warm weather.

People travelled far to spend time in Cumbria last weekend, while Malham Cove in North Yorkshire had visitors from Bradford, Leeds and Oldham – which is more than 50 miles away. 

In the South West, Chief Superintendent Ian Drummond-Smith, police commander for Cornwall, warned non-residents to stay away from the area.

He said: ‘Our officers will be patrolling this weekend, firstly on the M5 and A30 in an attempt to prevent visitors from entering the force area, and then locally to enforce the restrictions.

‘We will do so in a fair and balanced manner, but travelling down to the West Country is a serious breach of these restrictions and those doing so can expect to receive a fine.’

Have you been scolded by over-zealous police? Email alexander.robertson@mailonline.co.uk with your stories

 

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