Too many drivers are ignoring pleas to stay off roads hit by severe weather, a senior police officer has warned.

Thousands of motorists have been stranded across the UK this week due tovehicles being unable to cope with the blast of cold, snow and ice.

Chief Inspector Adrian Leisk, head of roads policing across Devon, Cornwall and Dorset, wrote on Twitter: "Colleagues have been rescuing hundreds of stranded motorists overnight and the icy roads are treacherous.

"Please can we have a more literal interpretation of the word 'essential' this morning. There have been so many warnings that this weather was coming."

This followed a message he sent at 5pm on Thursday, pleading with drivers not to "add to the challenges we are facing" and warning "if we have to rescue you this may put another's life in danger".