A DEFUNCT radio mast could become a memorial to police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty, a chief constable has revealed.

Durham Police initially wanted to knock down the 150ft-high needle-like structure when it moves from its crumbling 1960s-built headquarters to a new £15m purpose-built base later this year.

But English Heritage, the City of Durham Trust and others called for the grade II-listed mast, designed by revered engineer Sir Ove Arup – the creator of the Sydney Opera House – to be saved for posterity.

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The police then agreed to move it a few yards down the road and make it part of its new HQ, at a cost of up to £400,000.

Now chief constable Mike Barton has confirmed it could become part of a memorial at the new Aykley Heads HQ, in Durham City.

“We thought about what it could be and have been asking our staff,” he said.

“One of the good ideas would be for it to be a commemoration – not just of industrial structures but a reverential memorial of people connected with Durham Constabulary who’ve given their lives in law enforcement or war.”

Mr Barton said no final decision had been taken and dialogue over the proposal was continuing.

But he added: “It would seem to be to be an opportunity missed if we don’t do something with what is an iconic structure.”

The force has repeatedly defended moving the mast, saying leaving it where it is would knock £1m off the value of the current headquarters site, which is to be sold for upmarket housing.

The new police headquarters is expected to finally open in August, having been delayed by four months – at a cost of more than £100,000 – by the suspected presence of great crested newts.

None of the protected amphibians were eventually found on site.

Sir Ove Arup also designed the Pompidou Centre in Paris, London’s Labworth Cafe and Durham’s Kingsgate Bridge, where a bust of the late engineer was unveiled in 2011.