DURHAM Chief Constable Mike Barton has announced his decision to retire from policing in the summer.

After 39 years in uniform and seven years running Britain’s best performing police force, Durham’s top cop has revealed plans to step down on June 7.

This morning, Mr Barton, who led Durham to three successive Outstanding ratings in the annual Peel inspections, confirmed his retirement in a letter sent with “mixed emotions” to Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner Ron Hogg.

Chief Constable Barton said: “There remain many challenges in policing that I would have relished tackling, but there comes a time when one should hand the baton to the next generation of talented and committed people who will bring their own style, thinking and approach”.

In response, Mr Hogg said he had been “very fortunate to have such a dedicated, forward-thinking and passionate” chief constable during his term in office.

He wrote: "Your leadership has been unique and unequivocal, and whilst your primary focus has been very much on keeping the people of the communities of the Force safe, your impact has had a reach both nationally and internationally.

"It is a position unprecedented in the history of this fine organisation, and testament to your vision and desire to bring about change that we have retained that essential element of the British policing model, neighbourhood policing."

Mr Hogg went on to say: "Our work together in relation to pushing for reform of the evil blight that is illegal drug use, truly demonstrates how by thinking differently and in partnership, new and better ways of dealing with this destructive curse can and must be found.

"Too many people have died and are suffering whilst nationally the revolving door of proven failure in the criminal justice system continues as ever.

"Your support in my endeavours to change Government policy will no doubt continue so that lasting reform bringing effective treatment and therefore prevention can be achieved and we will continue to pursue this locally to prove detractors wrong.

"Our Checkpoint scheme has been a huge success thanks to your support and innovation and again shows how modern thinking can make such a difference to our communities.

"I am glad you had so much fun and I think it fair to say that with you as Chief Constable, there has rarely been a dull moment!

"Your contribution to Durham Constabulary has come at a personal cost to you and your family. Thus, we are most grateful to them, and Maggie in particular, for allowing us to borrow you.

"We return you with fondness and affection."

What has Mike Barton done for you?

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