DURHAM'S acting police and crime commissioner said he was "taken aback" by Derbyshire Police's use of drones to shame walkers out in the Peak District during the coronavirus lockdown.

Speaking to BBC's Radio 4, Steve White, who served as chair of the Police Federation until 2017, said: "I have got to be honest when I saw it I was a little taken aback in terms of the way that it presented what Derbyshire Police were asking people to do and think it could have been done in a better way.

"Of course the media furore that took off as a result of it was perhaps a little unhelpful as well. We are very clearly living in very testing times here and that goes for the police service as well."

He added: "What is absolutely vital throughout this period is that we retain the trust and the confidence of the communities that we are here to serve.

"I think that going straight in at a level that suggests that if people are going to try and walk their dog in somewhere that is quite beautiful could lead to a criminal prosecution, is perhaps the wrong way to go about it."

Mr White said it was vital it that people listened to messaging from Government people and that the police are not expected to enforce guidance and guidelines – but to enforce the law.

He said: "I agree with the chief constable of Derbyshire Police that we are early in the stages here and there needs to be some understanding.

"Of course normally with new legislation it's taken a lot of consultation before it even gets onto the statute book. And then we have time to really absorb it and work out the tactics. We haven't got that luxury here."

Mr White said the vast majority of the members of public are trying very hard to stick to the guidelines and to carry out life as much as possible and the police service should enable them to do that "without a fear that if you step out your door you are going to be pounces upon by a cop" and questioned.

"We don't want to move to that situation at all, but there needs to be a period of learning and of listening and communities as well.

"And I have got to say that up in Durham and Darlington, the vast majority of people are absolutely sticking to the guidelines. "Where we have intelligence that is not happening we deal with it proportionately and that is what I would want to see."

Derbyshire Police's Chief Constable Peter Goodman, who defended his force's actions, said: "Some would say we in Derbyshire have gone too far. I genuinely believe that we haven't because we are trying to do everything through conversation and explanation."