Labour MP Stephen Kinnock was scolded by police for visiting his father Neil Kinnock on the former Labour leader’s birthday.

Mr Kinnock said he and his wife, the former Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, had visited his parents' London home for his dad’s 78th birthday and “sat in their front garden for a socially distanced celebration”.

South Wales Police replied to the Aberavon MP’s tweet by saying the visit was “not essential travel”. The force stated: “We urge you to comply with government restrictions, they are in place to keep us all safe.”

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Mr Kinnock responded to the public shaming by explaining: “I felt that this was essential travel as I had to deliver some necessary supplies to my parents. I stayed long enough to sing ‘happy birthday’ to Dad, and then I was off.”

In a photo posted on social media, the MP could be seen sitting what appeared to be more than two metres from his parents, who remained perched on the doorstep.

The police force later responded by tweeting: “We appreciate the clarification … we recognise that it is really difficult for everyone at the moment to adapt to the new restrictions imposed.”

Amid claims several police forces have been overzealous in their approach to the new lockdown rules, the head of Britain’s largest police force has told officers that new enforcement powers should only be used as a last resort.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick said her approach is to “help educate and encourage” the public to comply with the tightest restrictions seen in peacetime in the UK.

Cressida told LBC her officers have “gently” cleared gatherings of people when discovered, and are not routinely stopping drivers.

“I think we’re all trying to get used to this. My approach in my service is one entirely of trying to encourage people, to engage with people, to have conversations with people.”

Former Tory MP David Gauke, the ex-justice secretary, described Derbyshire Police’s shaming of ramblers taking a walk in the countryside as “badly misjudged”.

Police have also being inundated with calls from members of the public reporting their neighbours for allegedly violating the lockdown social distancing rules.

Martin Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), said officers would “respond in a proportionate way” to such calls. “It demonstrates that there is a sense among the population that this is really serious.”

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