POLICE have been praised for going beyond the call of duty, after escorting a pensioner to her hotel when she got lost in a North-East town.
The woman, believed to be in her late 70s or 80s, was driving from North Wales to Middlesbrough on Thursday (May 22) evening.
She lost her way and ended up in Darlington town centre in the early hours of Friday.
Her 4x4 vehicle was stopped by Sgt Dave Kirton and PCSO Chris Hirst, who became suspicious because its was being driven very slowly.
The officers were confronted not with a criminal mastermind sizing up their next offence, but a vulnerable woman pondering a road atlas.
Concerned about her tired and confused state, the officers decided to give the woman a personal escort to her hotel - the Baltimore, in Marton Road, Middlesbrough.
The woman was so touched by the officers' kindness that she offered to make a donation to a charity of their choice.
Although they told her that was not necessary, the officers suggested a stroke charity, for which colleagues have been raising funds in memory of DS Dave Storey, who died earlier this year, just a few days after retirement.
Details of the incident were posted on the Darlington police Facebook page, with more than 900 likes and dozens of comments praising the officers.
Sgt Kirton said: "It was a public safety issue - we came across a vulnerable lady and our first instinct was to look out for her
"It took about 40 minutes in total, 20 minutes there and 20 minutes back.
"This woman could have fallen asleep, ended up in a ditch or been a victim of crime.
"I would like to think, if it was my mother or grandmother, that someone else would have done the same."
Susan Lunn, duty manager at the hotel, said the woman was very grateful to the officers for their help.
She said: "She explained to me that she was really disorientated when she was in Darlington and was driving around really slowly.
"She got pulled over and joked that the police must have thought she was drink-driving.
"She said the police were really nice and she was glad of their service."