FIVE years ago this week, Cleveland Police announced a clean sweep of an under-fire force

Scandal-hit Cleveland Police would bring in more senior officers from outside to help break the culture within the force, it emerged.

As Chief Constable Iain Spittal announced that the professional standards department (PSD), which investigates complaints, misconduct allegations and wrongdoing amongst officers, would be disbanded, he also announced a full review of how to replace it.

Every application made under RIPA law in the last six years was to also be examined in an independent study, and national policing expert John Armstrong, who was recommended by police watchdog Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, was to put together a blueprint for its replacement.

That could have included a head of PSD from outside the police service, in a pioneering move.

The planned changes to Cleveland Police’s disciplinary department came in the wake of a litany of failed employment tribunals, internal misconduct hearings and the unlawful use of surveillance powers.

The force had faced numerous claims of racism in the past few years and it was the misuse RIPA to track down a whistle-blower who tipped off The Northern Echo about an equality review that eventually led to the department being overhauled.

Also that week, covered in soot, scared and helpless, little Lara’s life hung in the balance after she was rescued from a house fire.

But thanks to the quick actions of paramedics and veterinary staff the puppy’s life was saved and she made a full recovery.

Owner Kayleigh Coates was woken by a smoke alarm just after midnight when a major fire broke out at her home in Spennymoor, County Durham, after she accidentally left a hob lit on the gas cooker.

Emergency services attended and Miss Coates was rushed to the University Hospital of North Durham,, in Durham City, and kept in overnight for observation and the blaze destroyed the kitchen, where Lara was sleeping, and other parts of the house.

While at the incident, paramedics called the emergency vet at Wilson Veterinary Group to treat the nine-week-old golden retriever, who was suffering from smoke inhalation and covered in soot.

She since made a full recovery and was reunited with Miss Coates and her partner Liam Willis, who bought their beloved pup just five days earlier to celebrate a year in their new home together.

Meanwhile, a beard that was two years in the making and took just 15-minutes to disappear raised around £1,000 for charity.

Darlington man Steven Tait pledged to grow his beard for 24-months to raise awareness and money for Prostate Cancer UK.

And after two-years and ten inches of luxuriant growth, Mr Tait went under the scissors today finally rid himself of his fundraising facial hair.

He was still waiting for the final amount his hair-raising scheme had made.