Police officer becomes first woman chief officer in force's history

Assistant Chief Constable Helen McMillan.Assistant Chief Constable Helen McMillan.
Assistant Chief Constable Helen McMillan.
A top cop has become the first female chief officer in Durham Constabulary's 177 year history.

Chief Superintendent Helen McMillan, 49, has secured the role of acting assistant chief constable for the force.

Helen steps up from her current role of head of neighbourhood and safeguarding.

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The post has become available as Deputy Chief Constable Steve Watson has landed the job of as chief constable with South Yorkshire Police.

Ms McMillan, who is an experienced firearms and public order commander, said: “It is a real honour to be given the role and I am relishing the challenge.

“As a Durham girl it is even more satisfying and it is a proud moment for me and my family.

Durham Chief Constable Mike Barton said: “It is a very proud day for one of our home grown officers.

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“She will become our first female chief officer when she takes up the role as acting assistant chief constable, and it is another pat on the back for the people who work for Durham Police.”

After graduating from Durham University, Ms McMillan worked in the NHS for a year before joining the force in 1990.

During her service she has worked across the force in many operational roles particularly in Durham, Bishop Auckland, and Darlington as well as spending time in the force’s training and professional standards departments.

In 2004 Ms McMillan was promoted to chief inspector and was responsible for policing in Darlington.

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She then spent six months seconded to government office for the North East in Newcastle.

Promoted to superintendent in 2008, Ms McMillan was responsible for operational and crime performance across North Durham.

In 2010 she became head of operations and communications in the response command.

In this role Ms McMillan was responsible for roads policing, firearms and specialist support as well as for the force communications centre.

She has regularly commanded the international cricket matches and other large events around Darlington and County Durham.