A POLICE chief promised a return to “Dixon of Dock Green values” as he was handed his force’s top job on a permanent basis today (Monday, February 11).

Mike Barton was confirmed as Durham Constabulary’s new chief constable by the force’s Police and Crime Panel (PCP).

Mr Barton had been Temporary Chief Constable since Jon Stoddart retired in October and was nominated for the post long-term by Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Ron Hogg last month (January).

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During questioning by PCP members, Mr Barton said austerity cuts meant chief officers had to challenge the way policing had been done in the past.

“If we do what we’ve always done but dilute it, the public will lose out,” he told the meeting at Durham’s County Hall.

The 56-year-old then said it was “not a cliché” to talk of policing in the style of Dixon of Dock Green, an iconic BBC police series which ran from 1955 to 1976, saying: “It means people want that traditional, safe, known name in every community.”

Giving power to the people through community policing and greater use of restorative justice would be key, he continued.

Afterwards, Mr Barton said he was incredibly proud and privileged to be appointed.

“I want to continue the work started by Jon Stoddart and other chief constables.

“I want to be part of that lineage of chief constables who have made Durham a leading force in the UK.

“I share an ambition with the PCC to make Durham the best police force on the planet.”

Mr Barton spent 28 years with Lancashire police before becoming Durham’s assistant chief constable in 2008, then deputy chief constable in 2009.

He has led the force’s fight against organised crime, taking an “Al Capone-style” approach of pursuing criminals for any offence possible.

Mr Hogg said: “I’ve got the chief constable I wanted. It’s a good day. There has been widespread support in the community and among officers for Mike Barton, who has demonstrated what he is capable of in his time with Durham Constabulary.”

Mr Barton will now appoint his deputy and assistant chief constables.

*For an in-depth interview with the new chief constable, see The Northern Echo later this week.