Durham Constabulary's front-line officers are being selected with the help of the community for the first time.

The force has become one of only a few in the country to involve public assessors in the recruitment process.

This weekend, 72 would-be officers will attend police headquarters at Aykley Heads, in Durham, to face scrutiny from eight residents from across County Durham and Darlington.

"We are confident that by involving the public in the selection process we will assure that we get the right people for the job, and that members of the wider community will be assured the officers on their streets have the qualities they think they should have,'' said Inspector Amanda Cathrine, the force's diversity officer.

Prior to the recruitment weekend, the assessors and those applying to join the force have been subjected to a rigorous selection procedure.

From the hundreds of people who responded to newspaper advertisements, the force's recruitment specialists singled out 11, eight of whom will take part in the recruitment weekend.

Inspector Cathrine added: "Through their involvement in the process of identifying new recruits, members of the community will have an influence over who makes the grade and becomes a police officer.

"They will also see for themselves the calibre of those who apply and hopefully this will increase public confidence in the officers on our streets.''

Those who have applied to become police officers have already attended a four-hour session to find out more about the job.

If they are successful they will then face medical examinations and reference checks.