CUSTOMERS at a supermarket will find themselves in the 'cop shop' when an unusual partnership is launched tomorrow.

Wednesday morning sees the first of a regular series of police surgeries at Asda's Whinfield store in Darlington.

Local PC Jonathan Stoker will be available in the store's entrance lobby to talk to people about police-related matters.

Previous surgeries in the Haughton East area of town were held at the police section office in Denmark Street.

But because the office is a mile and a half from where PC Stoker patrols, he asked Asda if space could be made available at the store, which is visited by 30,000 shoppers each week.

"Asda is the biggest business on our beat and is the focal point for shoppers in the area. At the moment we are looking to hold the surgeries every other Wednesday, but that could change depending on the feedback we get," said PC Stoker

Residents are being encouraged to use the surgeries to raise issues, or seek advice on joining the police or crime prevention.

Haughton East has a reasonably low crime rate, but recently the theft of alloy wheels from cars has been a problem.

PC Stoker is keen to offer advice on steps car owners can take to prevent this type of offence.

Asda store manager Seane Wilkinson said: "We welcome the opportunity to work alongside the police and hope this initiative helps both of us develop our partnerships with the community."

PC Stoker's first surgery will tale place between 9.30am and noon on Wednesday