A DETECTIVE whose investigation into shocking child cruelty led to a woman being jailed has been awarded a national honour.

Claire Errington’s enquiry revealed that a woman from Coxhoe, County Durham, had abused children over six years, including burning a teenager with hair straighteners and depriving the child of food.

The 33-year-old also kicked and slapped three children, bathed them in cold water and gouged their eyes.

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When one child threatened to tell the authorities, the woman said she would kill them.

The abuse came to light after one child fled and was picked up by police.

A paediatrician said in 31 years working in child protection he had never seen so many marks and scars on a teenager.

Following a court trial, the woman was convicted of 11 counts of cruelty and jailed for six years. Her partner, 36, was convicted of one count of cruelty but spared jail.

Now Detective Constable Errington, of Durham Police, has been honoured for her work by the Police Federation National Detective Forum (PFNDF).

Nominating her for the award, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Goundry paid tribute to her dedication, skill and tenacity and said: “The positive impact Claire has had on the lives of the victims is immeasurable.”

DC Errington was also given a chief constable’s commendation.

The 34-year-old said she was very proud and paid tribute to the victims, whom she said had “suffered a catalogue of horrific abuse in the hands of people trusted to care for them and had given their evidence with great courage during the investigation and subsequent trial”.

During a house search, the former social services worker, who has been in the police for six years, saw past the abuser’s seemingly clean and tidy home to spot that provisions for the victims, such as clothing and bedding, were missing or totally inappropriate, a police spokesman said.

DC Errington trawled through medical records to detail the injuries the children had suffered, convincing Durham Local Safeguarding Children’s Board to launch a serious case review.

DC Errington was runner-up in the PFNDF’s detective investigation category and received her award at a ceremony in South Wales.