GUTTING news for great swathes of the Great British public - eating chips is not exercise.

You may try to argue your point, but police services in England would state the case against.

Surrey Police last week re-posted an image of a couple sitting at the water's edge in Brighton, the young pair enjoying a beautiful sunny day with two fish suppers. And good luck to them, eh? Well, no. This is Lockdown Britain, where no one can quite decide what's essential and what's not.

Plenty of people replied to the Surrey Police tweet to demand to know exactly where the picnickers were going wrong.

Enter South Leicester Police with a helpful explanation: "Sitting and eating chips on the beach isn't exercise...". There you have it.

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Following a delightfully bright and warm Easter weekend, the quibbles over correct lockdown behaviour and police interpretations of said behaviour were again rife.

In an epic case of trolling, the Metropolitan Police stand accused of telling people doing yoga on London Fields that they were "pretending to exercise". The Twitter user who was asked to move on said the police told her she couldn't be exercising as she was "lying on the ground."

The response was split. Some said to crack on - exercise outdoors is allowed and if you're far enough away from other people then there's no harm done.

Others disagreed. Do yoga at home, they said. They hadn't seen their elderly parents in nearly a month - that's hardship, not missing out on a fresh air downward dog.

The difficulty with lockdown rules that leave room for interpretation is that everyone can come up with a reason why their behaviour is excusable, or why one woman's essential is another's absolute frippery.

It also leaves room for police forces to get it badly wrong - from missteps to borderline abuse. And much of this is taking place on the forum of Twitter, where officers already tread a fine line between approachable bonhomie and badly misplaced attempts at humour.

The first force to truly receive pelters online was Derbyshire Police, which used drone footage to craft a Twitter video condemning people for driving to country parks to walk dogs and have picnics. Heavy handed, was the response from some. A well deserved shaming, from others.

The force has not learned its lesson from that public row and chose to tour the streets with a loudhailer and a desperately cringeworthy rap, which contained the couplets: "Stay at home whenever you can/

Don’t go out on the streets with your fam/ Only go to the shop for essential things/Like bread and milk and fruit and cheese strings."

The only benefit here is the clarity given to "essential things" for, of course, there has been dispute not only about whether people should be entirely ambulatory in parks with no rest stops at all, but also about shopping items.

Cambridge Police found itself in hot water for tweeting that, on a visit to a Tesco superstore, the "non-essential aisles were empty". Home Secretary Priti Patel pointed out that police checking shoppers' trolleys was "not appropriate" and the force blamed the tweet on an "over-exuberant" officer.

Northamptonshire Police joined the naughty step when Chief Constable Nick Adderley said his force was "days away" from "marshalling supermarkets and checking the items in baskets". By way of apology, the chief constable suggested he may have been "clumsy" in his language.

It's been a bad time, publicity-wise, for South Yorkshire Police after a video circulating on social media appeared to show an officer telling a man he wasn't allowed to use his own front lawn.

What's a force to do? The social distancing measures must be properly enforced in order to ensure public safety. But the UK is used to a liberal, lighter touch policing approach.

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That, coupled with the fluidity of interpretation of the rules, means forces' social media messaging is going awry. Police Scotland, by contrast, has pitched its messaging at the sweet spot.

Ahead of the Easter weekend it released a video of officers - on horseback, on foot, around the country - making a simple and straightforward request for people to stay home.

Its social media statements have talked about enforcement - but emphasised engagement.

Disseminating this message through officers on the ground is another matter. But, as far as social media use goes, Scotland's force is leading the way with common sense, not gimmicks, raps and nonsense.

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