Derbyshire police have been mocked by social media users after launching an appeal to find a lorry driver – for kissing a pensioner on the cheek.
While the force said it was treating the incident as sexual assault it has faced a huge backlash online.
A woman in her 70s had helped guide an HGV after it became stuck under a low bridge in Matlock earlier this week.
After the lorry had cleared the bridge one of the men jumped out of the vehicle, thanked the woman and kissed her on the cheek.
The force said in its appeal: ‘We want to speak to anyone who was in the area at the time and may be able to help our enquiries into the incident.
‘Of particular interest are any drivers who were in the area at the time and may have captured the lorry on dashcam’.
Derbyshire Police also posted a tweet that said: ‘It would be classed as a sexual assault as the woman did not [ask] the man to kiss her on the cheek.’
It triggered a huge backlash from social media users who branded the police ‘a joke’, and was later deleted.
The appeal was also removed from the force’s website.
One Twitter user said: ‘Love how the Derbyshire Police are going after people who kiss each other’, adding ‘Where is George Orwell when you need him!?’
Another simply said: ‘Surely this is not real’, while Stephen Lawrence responded: ‘They’ll be policing how we dress next’.
Other disbelieving users said: ‘has to be a wind up’.
One twitter user said that although kissing a stranger was ‘inappropriate’, the incident ‘doesn’t sound like a matter for the police’.
A statement issued by Derbyshire Police, reported by The Telegraph, said: ‘We issued an appeal for information this morning after a woman was kissed on the cheek in an unwanted gesture from a man she did not know.
‘The incident left the woman, who is in her 70s, very distressed, especially at a time when close contact with strangers is to be avoided.
‘She reported it to us and in law it falls under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
‘We take all allegations and reports of this nature extremely seriously and it is our duty to investigate the circumstances, with the victim’s welfare at the heart of it.
‘The social media post drew a significant number of comments that were counterproductive to the nature of the appeal and as a result, the decision was made to remove it.
‘It is important to note that people with information related to the incident can still get in touch with us if they can help.’