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27 November 2014, 15:50 | Updated: 27 November 2014, 15:54
Durham Police has been graded as the top performing force in the country at tackling crime.
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary's (HMIC) first Annual Assessment of Policing in England and Wales 2014 (the PEEL Report) assessed each force in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy.
The evidence from inspections, together with the context within which forces operate, allowed HMIC to make an assessment of each of the 43 police forces in England and Wales.
In the effectiveness strand of the assessment, Durham was the only force in the country judged to be 'outstanding' at investigating offending.
The force was also rated 'outstanding' at tackling anti-social behaviour and 'good' at reducing crime and preventing offending.
Durham also received a 'good' efficiency rating.
The report said:
"Durham Constabulary is effective at preventing and investigating crime. The constabulary provides appropriate support to victims, delivers positive outcomes for victims and engages effectively with its communities.
"Durham Constabulary puts victims and communities at the centre of its activity. Its victim-centred approach makes extensive use of outcomes other than prosecution to deliver what the victim wants. The use of restorative justice and community resolution is both widespread and innovative.
"Durham Constabulary has a clear focus on tackling crime and criminals. It works to a clear set of published priorities to protect neighbourhoods, tackle criminals and solve problems.
"The Chief Constable and his senior team lead by example, demonstrating visible leadership."
Chief Constable Mike Barton said:
"This is a massive pat on the back for those who work for Durham Constabulary 24 hours-a-day, 365 days of the year."
"I am immensely proud that we lead the way when it comes to investigating crime."
"We are the only force in the country to receive an 'outstanding' in that category and I'm delighted that we set the benchmark for others to follow."
"I am not complacent and we will continue to raise the bar, but this is a fantastic launch pad for future excellence."
Ron Hogg, Durham's Police and Crime Commissioner said:
"I congratulate the Chief Constable and all members of the Constabulary on some outstanding results.
"Based on this report, the people of County Durham and Darlington can be confident that they are being served by one of the best police forces in the country. "
"I welcome the report, which is helping to increase transparency in policing and should increase public confidence."
"The report did identify some issues for improvement, that all police forces need to face up to."
"I will be holding our force to account to ensure that these are acted upon, including the need to ensure they have the capability they need to respond to threats such as cyber-crime."