A COUPLE and their three-year-old were confronted by a police officer after feeding some ducks while on their daily walk.

The family, the wife of which is heavily pregnant, had taken the short walk from their home in New Milton to the duck pond at Ballard Water Meadows as part of daily exercise during the current lockdown.

However, when at the public ponds, they were challenged by a PSO from Hampshire Police who told them that feeding the ducks was not classified as daily exercise.

One member of the family said: “There was hardly anyone around at that time and they were following the guidelines and keeping their distance from people.

“How can she explain to her three-year-old daughter that she isn’t allowed to feed the ducks?

“The lady involved is heavily pregnant and is having her second child in a couple of weeks and this incident made her very stressed out.”

She added: “They say he was heavy handed in his approach and, to me, it seems a bit ridiculous. I think it was a bit over the top.

“I appreciate they are following the rules they were given but they have to look at it from the other side.”

Hampshire Police said that including the feeding of ducks into people’s exercise is allowed, as long as they don’t stay out “for longer than is necessary”.

A police spokesman from Hampshire Constabulary said: “Our officers are engaging with the public while out across the region, and at times will seek to establish an individual's circumstances.

“On this day, an officer engaged with several families who were out separately at the pond. This is part of our approach, which also sees officers explaining and encouraging people to ensure they are social distancing.

“Officers are doing a difficult job, at a difficult time. Incorporating feeding the ducks into your daily exercise is allowed, providing people are not remaining in the area for longer than is necessary.”

It was confirmed last week that the UK’s coronavirus lockdown would be extended for another three weeks until at least May 7.

Soon after this announcement, the National Police Chief’s Council and College of Policing wrote a three-page document explaining to officers what could be classed as a ‘reasonable’ excuse to leave the home.

These include taking an animal for treatment and buying several days’ worth of food, including alcohol, however driving for a prolonged period with only brief exercise and taking short walk to a park bench, then a long period sat down are not allowed.

Prior to the publication of the document, some forces had been criticised for being overzealous with their enforcement of lockdown measures.