An officer told a young mum breastfeeding her baby to move on as police enforced a new social distancing law in Australia.

The mum, who was with a friend, appeared shocked and began laughing after the officer told the pair to leave the bench they were sitting on.

It came as officers patrolled beaches and parks in Sydney to make sure people are following unprecedented laws aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus.

A police helicopter was seen flying over Coogee Beach in the east side of the city as officers stopped people walking or exercising, or sitting on benches.

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A police officer speaks to two mums, one of whom was breastfeeding

As police forces in the UK face criticism, Mick Fuller, the police commissioner for the state of New South Wales, said his officers would "show discretion" while enforcing the lockdown rules.

At Congee Beach, police approached two mums - one of whom was breastfeeding - to explain the rules and ask them to leave as they sat holding their babies next to their prams, 9 News reported.

Commissioner Fuller said there would be many "what-if" situations as people adapt to the laws and some don't fully understand them.

He added: "Police have been enforcing these laws and I know ... there has been criticism of police, which I don't accept.

Police in Sydney enforce Australia's new social distancing laws

"I accept the criticism of my leadership."

It comes as some police forces in the UK face criticism for the way they have enforced lockdown laws which prevent people from leaving their home for most purposes, except for things such as grocery shopper or exercising.

Officers have been told to be “consistent” over their handling of new powers to enforce the Covid-19 lockdown.

Their powers include fines and arrests after the Government introduced social-distancing measures last week.

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Earlier this week, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps admitted there had been “one or two instances” of police being heavy-handed but said in the main, forces were being “sensible”.

Guidance sent out to forces said communities must receive a “consistent” level of service from officers along with a “single style and tone”, according to the BBC.

The document from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing was issued to the 43 police forces in England and Wales last week, but has not yet been made public.

Lancashire Police issued 123 fines for breaches of the rules over the weekend, while officers in Cheshire summonsed six people for various offences, including multiple people from the same house going out to buy “non-essential” items.

Some forces launched online forms which can be filled in by the public to report people who appeared to be flouting the rules.

This follows claims some police 101 numbers were being inundated last week with queries about the rules.

Britain’s most senior police officer, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, has told her force only to use the new powers, which allow them to fine or arrest those who break lockdown laws, as a last resort.

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said forces need to show consistency in encouraging people to follow the coronavirus restrictions.