Parts of Britain are now like a "police state" due to heavy-handed enforcement of coronavirus lockdown rules, a former Supreme Court Justice has warned. 

Lord Sumption spoke out after a police force in Derbyshire, England, released drone footage of walkers in the Peak District and then used ink to die a blue lagoon black to stop tourists visiting it. 

“I have to say that the behaviour of Derbyshire Police in trying to shame people in using their undoubted right to travel to take exercise in the country and wrecking beauty spots in the fells so people don’t want to go there is frankly disgraceful," he told Radio 4’s The World At One.

“This is what a police state is like. It’s a state in which the Government can issue orders or express preferences with no legal authority and the police will enforce ministers’ wishes.”

“Derbyshire Police have shamed our policing traditions.

“There is a natural tendency, of course, and a strong temptation for the police to lose sight of their real functions and turn themselves from citizens in uniform into glorified school prefects.

“I think it’s really sad that the Derbyshire Police have failed to resist that.”

HeraldScotland: Undated handout photo issued by Buxton Safer Neighbourhood Policing Team of Derbyshire Police dyeing the "blue lagoon" in Harpur Hill, Buxton black, as gatherings there are "dangerous" and are "in contravention of the current instruction of the UK Government".Undated handout photo issued by Buxton Safer Neighbourhood Policing Team of Derbyshire Police dyeing the "blue lagoon" in Harpur Hill, Buxton black, as gatherings there are "dangerous" and are "in contravention of the current instruction of the UK Government".

He added: “The tradition of policing in this country is that policemen are citizens in uniform, they are not members of a disciplined hierarchy operating just at the Government’s command.

“Yet in some parts of the country, the police have been trying to stop people from doing things like travelling to take exercise in the open country which are not contrary to the regulations simply because ministers have said that they would prefer us not to.

“The police have no power to enforce ministers’ preferences but only legal regulations which don’t go anything like as far as the Government’s guidance."

Asked about Lord Sumption's comments, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it was important to follow the “letter and the spirit” of Government guidance.

He said: “Of course, we back the police doing a very difficult job in unprecedented circumstances.

“Of course there needs to be common sense in the way some of that guidance is interpreted but overall, the overriding message that we want to convey to the British public, and I think the police are rightly trying to convey, is that we need to all be following the letter and the spirit of that guidance and that’s the way we curtail this virus and we get through this challenge as quickly as possible.”