CHESHIRE Police is reviewing the circumstances behind its coronavirus enforcement actions to ensure that they were proportionate.

This comes as MPs heard how police officers have initially tried to enforce coronavirus lockdown rules based on ‘stark’ messages from politicians rather than new legislation.

At 3.55am on Sunday, March 29, officers stopped a car in Warrington containing two men, and found that they were not related and were from different households.

The pair, who were both from the Stockport area, stated to officers that they had driven to Warrington as they were bored.

At 3.57am the same morning in Warrington, police also stopped a vehicle, where it emerged that the driver and passenger were unknown to each other, had met at a house party that night and said they were on their way to a garage.

In Warrington again at 4am the same morning, a man was stopped in the street and said he was returning from a party.

It was explained that he shouldn’t be meeting up with people from other households as it contravened the current legislation.

A Cheshire Police spokesperson said: “On each occasion, officers explained that they were in breach of the new legislation and they were all given the opportunity to engage with officers and comply.

“However, they refused to acknowledge the severity of the situation and the officers felt they were left with no other option than enforcement.

“As this is new legislation, we are reviewing the circumstances of each case to ensure it was proportionate.

“We would like to stress that enforcement is always a last resort - our aim is always to engage with people, explain why they need to go home and encourage them to follow the guidance.”

British Transport Police was one force that had to row back after incorrectly fining a woman £660 for apparently attempting to take an unnecessary train journey in Newcastle.

Simon Kempton, from the Police Federation, told the Home Affairs Select Committee that normally, officers would be trained before new legislation came into force.

But lockdown powers under the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations and the Coronavirus Act were brought in so quickly that this was not possible.

He said: "We had a period of time, several days, where actually our only briefing was the very clear, very stark guidance that ministers and other Government officials were giving to the public.

"We didn't at that time have anything in writing, and that might have led to some of the inconsistencies in approach."

The College of Policing has now issued national guidance on how the new laws should be used.

Mr Kempton said that the police's relationship with the public should not be sacrificed amid the outbreak.

He said: "At the minute we're in the middle of this pandemic, and it's scary and it's unprecedented, but it's going to end.

"And when it ends, the public are going to emerge and it's going to be a very different world.

“They will have lost their jobs, their businesses, and they're going to need protecting by the police at that point.

"We can best protect them, not just by having the right equipment, but by maintaining that relationship. I'm really proud of the relationship that we've got with the public.

"What we need to do is get that balance - protecting the NHS while protecting that relationship with the public."

Paul Griffiths, from the Police Superintendents Association, said that initially officers were guided by ‘policy intent’ rather than the new law.

He told the committee that the legislation "has been introduced at a pace and at a scale that we have never experienced before".

Mr Griffiths added: "Very early on there was probably some confusion. There was a real need for a clear and consistent message both from the Government, from the police and other agencies about what this meant.

"I think a lot of officers relied on the policy intent before the law was enacted."