Fuel panic buying is spreading as retailers reported a surge in sales and one police force even began asking petrol stations to close temporarily for safety reasons.

There was also a run on jerry cans as worried motorists took the controversial advice of Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude to stockpile fuel.

Motoring organisations laid the blame for the panic buying firmly at the door of the government.

AA president Edmund King said: "There is no fuel tanker strike and therefore if drivers followed normal fuel buying patterns there would be no fuel shortage whatsoever.

"We now have self-inflicted shortages due to poor advice about topping up the tank and hoarding in jerry cans. This in turn has led to localised shortages, queues and some profiteering at the pumps."

Mr King continued: "Even if we do have a strike which is unlikely, there will be seven days' notice of strike action, and therefore time for drivers to fill up. The AA has advised all along that drivers should follow their normal fuel buying patterns."

Dorset Police also urged the public not to panic buy and began asking petrol stations to close temporarily to stop motorists "queuing irresponsibly" and causing a danger to others.

Chief Inspector Nick Maton said: "There is no disruption to the fuel supply in the UK and members of the public should not panic buy.

"The actions of some motorists in queuing irresponsibly at petrol stations is causing danger to other road users. Police are taking action, requesting petrol stations to close temporarily in order to keep traffic flowing.

"Once the queues have dispersed, the petrol stations may reopen for short periods."