A scheme in which police officers give a cuddly toy to young children they meet during their daily patrols has been expanded across the North East.
The Trauma Teddies initiative was launched in September, but was started as a pilot operation that just covered part of Newcastle.
It involves knitted teddy bears being stored in patrol cars of response officers so that they can hand them to children they meet when responding to incidents, such as road traffic collisions or a young child who had gone missing.
Now the decision has been made to expand the pilot forcewide so patrol cars in Northumberland, Gateshead, Sunderland and North Tyneside will carry Trauma Teddies.
Chief Inspector Clare Langley has overseen the implementation of the scheme in Northern Area Command and said they could be a vital tool to help comfort young children.
She added: “This is a really fantastic scheme that has already had a number of success stories in Newcastle during the pilot.
“It made sense to expand this scheme across the force, as in the short time we have been running it, we have found there is clearly an appetite to keep it going.
“Many of the children we come into contact with are scared, frightened and have never had any contact with the police before.
“Our officers are fantastic at comforting these young children, but giving a child a teddy bear can be the thing that really builds a connection with them.”