Tyne & Wear

Birthday honour for 'free heroin' Durham police chief

Mike Barton stands next to a Durham Constabulary logo Image copyright Durham Constabulary
Image caption Mike Barton has been honoured for services to policing

A police chief who advocated addicts be given free heroin has been named in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Mike Barton, who retired on Friday as chief constable of Durham Police, has become a Commander of the British Empire for services to policing.

The 62-year-old has repeatedly called for debate over the approach to tackling drug addiction.

He suggested addicts get free heroin and clean needles in a safe environment known as a "consumption room".

Mr Barton said: "When I became a police officer 39 years ago, CBEs were for the glitterati, royals and people I had never met, so to be honoured like this is taking a bit of getting my head around.

"I would like to say a deep and sincere thank you to everybody who has worked with me over the years and made me look good, and also to those who took the time and trouble to put my name forward.

"This is a great honour for everyone at Durham Constabulary and is a recognition of all our creativity and hard work".

It is the second honour for Mr Barton - as crime operations lead for the National Police Chiefs' Council he oversaw the restructure of the national Holmes computer network and was awarded the Queen's Police Medal in 2014.

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