A REVIEW that could lead to changes in the structure of Durham Police is due to start in the New Year.

The force plans to look at how its departments and territorial divisions operate.

Senior officers are stressing the focus will be on improving operational effectiveness and there will be consultation before any decisions are taken.

Nine years ago the force abolished its north and south divisions and introduced six area commands.

Earlier this year the force received a glowing report from Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary which, uniquely, made no recommendations for improvements.

The review will be led by Chief Superintendent Trevor Watson, who said: "Unless we continue to examine the way we operate we won't be regarded as being in the forefront of policing.

"We need to find out whether the existing structure is appropriate to our vision for policing and consistent with our aim of continuous improvement.

"But we will consult with staff and with the various agencies we deal with."

He also said: "The review is about helping us use our existing staff in the best way to face the challenges ahead over the next decade."

Any recommendations for change will be considered by the police authority.