'Forward-thinking' police chief who started out in Blackpool retires from force
The chief constable of the country's best performing police force - who started his career in his home of Blackpool - has announced he is retiring.
Mike Barton, who has led Durham Police to three successive outstanding ratings in annual Peel inspections, has been an outspoken critic of national drugs policy.
After 39 years in uniform, having started as a constable in Blackpool, where he worked the Golden Mile beat, and seven years as Durham's chief constable, he said it was the right time to step down.
The 62-year-old has been one of the more public-facing chief constables, regularly appearing in the media and championing his force's innovative working practices.
Mr Barton and his Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Ron Hogg have advocated a change in drug policy, calling for heroin addicts to be given free access to the drug to cut crime and prevent organised criminals making millions from their misery.
In his resignation letter to the PCC, Mr Barton said: "It remains a lingering sadness and deep frustration that heroin-assisted treatment for heroin addicts is not de rigueur."
In reply, Mr Hogg said he had been "very fortunate to have such a dedicated, forward-thinking and passionate" chief.
Mr Barton said he now hoped to spend more time with his grandchildren and in his greenhouse.