Top-level tributes have been paid to Cumbria's two most senior police chiefs after they were recognised in the New Year's Honours.

Chief Constable Jerry Graham and Deputy Chief Constable Michelle Skeer were awarded the Queen's Police Medal.

This honour recognises acts of courage or conspicious devotion to duty.

Their service was praised by both the police minister, Nick Hurd, and Cumbria's crime commissioner, Peter McCall, following the announcement.

The medal for Mr Graham comes as he prepares to step down from the top post after announcing he is to retire by the end of March.

His period at the county force saw him act as the gold commander during two of the most traumatic events in Cumbria's history - the floods of 2009 and the operation launched as gunman Derrick Bird carried out his killing spree in west Cumbria.

Mr Hurd said: "Mr Graham has given decades of service to local policing and played an important role in response to major incidents.

"It is fitting that his dedication and commitment is honoured with a Queen’s Police Medal."

Mr McCall added: “I am delighted that Mr Graham has been recognised in
Peter McCall this way for his outstanding and dedicated service to policing in Cumbria – it is richly deserved.

"I am very proud that the two most senior police officers in Cumbria have both been recognised in such a distinguished way."

Carlisle-born Mrs Skeer has also been honoured for a career which has seen her rise through the ranks with the county force, working across a string of departments and a number of high-pressured roles.

Mr Hurd said she had served Cumbria Police with determination and leadership.

Mr McCall said: "I would like to offer my personal congratulations to Mrs Skeer for this well-deserved award in recognition of the significant contribution she has made to the policing service in Cumbria."

Who is Jerry Graham?

Jerry Graham Mr Graham joined Cumbria Police in 2009 as assistant chief constable, before being promoted to deputy chief in 2014.

He took on the chief role the same year.

Mr Graham joined the police service in 1985, working in a variety of uniform and CID roles with Lancashire Constabulary.

He rose through the ranks and was a superintendent by the mid-2000s.

In February 2006, he undertook a spell with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, taking command of a policing division in Belfast.

He has also performed national and regional roles.

Who is Michelle Skeer?

Mrs Skeer is the county's second most senior officer.
Michelle Skeer

She has previously performed the role of chief constable in an acting capacity.

She has held roles including detective inspector in Carlisle, working as the head of Carlisle CID and overseeing specialist units such as special branch.

Mrs Skeer is the leading officer nationally for the management of sexual offenders and violent offenders.

This role requires close working with a number of different agencies including the Home Office.

What is the Queen's Police Medal?

The Queen’s Police Medal was introduced by Royal warrant in 1954.

It is awarded to officers of any rank for acts of courage and conspicuous devotion to duty.

It superseded the King’s Police Medal, which was originally created in 1909.