YOUNGSTERS and victims of crime who value the work of their local police have helped one officer land a national prize.

PCSO Sam Wardle saw off competition from across the country to be named ‘most inspiring front liner’ at the WOW! Awards, which recognise staff who go beyond their normal duties to provide good service.

Part of the Spennymoor neighbourhood policing team for around four years, she was nominated by an elderly lady who suffered harassment and a couple who complained about anti social behaviour, both of whom she helped, and Ox Close Primary School, where she works closely with pupils.

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PCSO Wardle said: “I like building community relations, promoting all of the work we do as people often have a one track mind when they think of policing.

“Ask kids what we do and they often say ‘catch bad people’ but we do all sorts like road safety, drug and alcohol awareness and crime prevention.

“All of the Spennymoor police team work equally hard and I have good supervisors, Sgt Warren Edwards and Inps Graham Milne, so the award is nice but recognition of them too.”

Year six teacher at Ox Close, Lisa Payne, said: “Sam came in to help children with a science investigation about crime scenes years ago, the children responded really well and the relationship has developed with different classes and she’s helped us with other projects like our school travel plan.

“It is important they feel they can approach an officer outside and the parents recognise her efforts.”

PCSO Wardle, mother to Jessica, 16, and Jasmine, ten, said: “I love kids and make it my business to work with schools, to build relationships when they are young and accommodating so they feel they talk to us and get them to think about the implications of their actions.

“It also helps to know people in the community when dealing with incidents.”