JO Farrell, the current deputy chief constable of Durham Constabulary, is the preferred choice for the top job, it has been announced.

In March, Mike Barton announced he was to step down on June 7.

Now Ron Hogg, County Durham and Darlington’s Police Crime and Victim’s Commissioner has revealed his preferred choice for his replacement.

He said: “Following a thorough search up and down the country for the best person to be chief constable, I am pleased to announce that Durham Constabulary’s current deputy chief constable, Jo Farrell, is my preferred candidate.

“Jo’s extensive and varied career in several forces brings a breadth and depth of experience to what will be a very challenging and varied role.”

Interviews took place before a panel of senior public figures, a community representative, and an external human resources expert.

They followed focus groups with constabulary officers and staff and psychometric testing by the College of Policing.

Mr Hogg added: “The recruitment process has been rigorous.”