A SENIOR police officer with the Durham force has received a top award for her work with black and minority ethnic (BME) communities.

Superintendent Kerrin Smith flew home early from an FBI hostage negotiation course in America for the Middlesbrough-based BME Network Awards, thinking she would be presenting one of them.

Instead she was told she was the network's woman of the year for her work over the past 15 years, both as a police officer and her outside work.

She joined the Durham force in May having previously worked with both Cleveland and North Yorkshire police.

“I have done loads of support work with minority communities and promoted a diversity agenda in anything I do,” she said.

“This has included going into schools and talking to asylum seeker children about the style of policing in the UK, as it is completely different to what they are used to.

“I am a role model and speaker for BME women and I am involved in helping other women talk through how they can achieve their goals either on a one-to-one basis or on a larger scale.”

The 45-year-old, whose mum was English and father Indian, has also been invited to the US to talk about the challenges facing black women in policing as well as mentoring a number of BME officers in Durham and other UK police forces.

“When I was told I had been nominated as woman of the year. I was really gobsmacked – I just could not stop grinning and everyone was mega-chuffed for me."

Next up for Supt Smith is a sponsored skydive on Saturday, October 26, at Peterlee, to raise money for the Durham Agency Against Crime.