ON his last day before retirement, County Durham's senior police officer Mike Barton has been honoured by the Queen for a 39 year career in uniform.

Mr Barton, who stepped down as Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary today (Friday, June 7), has been awarded a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) for the services to police in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

The 62-year-old said: “When I became a police officer 39 years ago, CBEs were for the glitterati, royals and people I had never met, so to be honoured like this is taking a bit of getting my head around.

“I would like to say a deep and sincere thank you to everybody who has worked with me over the years and made me look good and also to those who took the time and trouble to put my name forward to Her Majesty the Queen.

“This is a great honour for everyone at Durham Constabulary and is a recognition of all our creativity and hard work”.

Born into a Lancashire farming family, the lifelong Blackpool Football Club supporter became a police constable in 1980 in the seaside town because he wanted “to make a difference”.

He steadily worked his way through the ranks, earning a reputation as a tough detective and a forward-thinking innovator.

After three years as Divisional Commander in Preston, Mr Barton joined the Durham force in 2008 as Assistant Chief Constable.

He was promoted to Deputy Chief the following year and took on the top job in 2012.

Well known for his no-nonsense style, Mr Barton went on to turn Durham into Britain’s best-performing police force with four successive outstanding ratings in the annual Peel inspections.

While serving with Durham, he developed his distinctive approach to tackling crime– a radical mix of old-fashioned police work and new thinking around technology, problem-solving and Restorative Justice.

During his three years as crime operations lead for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Mr Barton oversaw the restructure of the national Holmes computer network and was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in 2014.

Mr Barton, who plans to spend his retirement with his grandchildren and in his greenhouse, said: “I’ve had a fantastic time in policing and I’m looking forward to a slightly slower pace with time to reflect and maybe with a book."

Replacing Mr Barton in the top role is Jo Farrell, who joined Durham as Deputy Chief Constable from Northumbria Police in 2016, making her the first female chief in the force’s history.