Police in Essex have urged motorists not to contact them about long queues outside petrol stations.

Forecourts across the county have been swamped with customers throughout the day due to apparent panic buying.

Concerns over a fuel shortage – something the Government has rejected – are behind the scenes seen at petrol stations.

Essex Police had to ask the public not to ring 999 to report traffic problems caused by panic buying at petrol stations.

It tweeted: “A number of calls have come into our contact centre referencing traffic build up outside a number of petrol stations in Essex.

“While we understand this will be frustrating, unless there has been a collision or any crime committed, it is not a legitimate reason to contact the police.

“Please think before you dial.”

Long queues have been seen across Essex, including in Basildon, Colchester and Clacton.

Edmund King, president of breakdown and recovery service the AA, said that ‘there is no shortage of fuel and thousands of forecourts are operating normally with just a few suffering temporary supply chain problems’.

He added: “Fridays and the weekend always tend to be busier on forecourts as drivers either combine filling up with shopping runs, prepare for weekend trips or refuel for the start of the new working week.

“Drivers should not fill up outside their normal routines because, even if the occasional petrol station is temporarily closed, others just down the road will be open.

“It is now clear that there have been occasional delays over recent weeks that have been managed with hardly anyone noticing. This was a manageable problem.”

Although fuel is still in good supply, RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams has warned that price rises could be on the horizon.

He said: “The supply issues affecting a small number of petrol forecourts shouldn’t impact the prices drivers pay to fill up.

“But unfortunately the price of oil, which has the biggest influence on what drivers pay at the pumps, is continuing to rise at the moment.

“This may lead to fuel prices going up in the coming days which would be yet more bad news for drivers as a litre of unleaded is already over 21p a litre more expensive than a year ago.”