DETERMINED detective work that unearthed a case of child cruelty has led to a national award for a social worker-turned-policewoman.
DC Claire Errington’s painstaking enquiries discovered that three children were being neglected at a house in Coxhoe, near Durham.
Now DC Errington has been honoured with a national award.
The Police Federation National Detective Forum as well as Durham Chief Constable Mike Barton recognised Claire for her work which led to the woman householder from Coxhoe being jailed for six years after she was found guilty of 11 counts of cruelty.
The accused’s partner, a 36-year-old man, was spared jail after he was found guilty of one count of cruelty after taunting a child.
The woman’s campaign of abuse took place over six years and included scalding a teenager with hair straighteners and depriving the child of food. She also tormented the three children by kicking and slapping them, bathing them in cold water and gouging their eyes.
When one of her victims threatened to tell the local authority, the 33-year- old threatened the child and said all three would be killed.
The abuse came to light when one of the woman’s victims fled her care and was picked up by police. A paediatrician who subsequently examined the child said that in 31 years working in child protection, he had never seen so many marks and scars on a teenager.
Nominating Claire for the award, head of vulnerability at Durham Police, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Goundry, said: “The positive impact Claire has had on the lives of the victims is immeasurable.”
He added that the success of the investigation was down to the 34-year-old’s dedication, skill and tenacity.
DC Errington, who has served six years with the force, the last two in safeguarding, maintained an excellent rapport with the victims, gaining their confidence during the initial stages of the investigation and maintaining that confidence throughout the inquiry and the trial.
As part of her investigation DC Errington, who has also been given a chief constable’s commendation for her work, planned and conducted meticulous interviews with both suspects and oversaw forensic medical examinations for the children involved.
DCI Goundry said that the high quality file of evidence produced by DC Errington provided a compelling case that was referred to the Durham Local Safeguarding Children’s Board and became the subject of a serious case review.
The former social worker said she was very proud to have been runner up in the detective investigation category and paid tribute to the victims whom she said had “suffered a catalogue of horrific abuse in the hands of people trusted to care for them and had given their evidence with great courage during the investigation and subsequent trial.”
She received her award at a ceremony in South Wales from actors Amelia Bullmore and Suranne Jones, who play DCI Gill Murray and DC Rachel Bailey in the TV police drama Scott and Bailey.