A SECOND police officer has been arrested as part of a North-East force's investigation into the sale of firearms.

PC Damian Cobain, 41, a firearms licensing officer with Durham Police based in East Durham, is understood to have been seized last week and had his home raided.

A force spokesman said: ''We can confirm a second police constable has been arrested and questioned on suspicion of the theft of shotguns.

''That 41-year-old officer had been working in firearms licensing and he has been suspended from duty.

''The inquiry is on-going and being supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.''

Two weeks ago PC Maurice Allen, 46, a firearms licensing officer for the Derwentside area, was arrested over the suspected sale of guns handed to police for destruction.

That inquiry, thought to relate to more than legitimately-held 100 weapons, is also being supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

The investigation began after a rifle was stolen during a burglary at a farm in County Durham in February. The householder told officers he had bought the gun from Durham Police.

It emerged that its previous owner handed the gun to police for destruction, but it disappeared from the force's registration system.

PC Allen, who has also been suspended from duty, was questioned on suspicion of malpractice in public office, theft, forgery and deception.

He has since been bailed pending further inquiries.

Police have stressed that all the weapons have since been traced to licensed firearm certificate holders, he added.

It is believed that the investigation into PC Cobain does not involve as many weapons as that regarding PC Allen.