CUMBRIA police is to carry out “precautionary” checks on marked police cars after a 47-year-old officer died in a crash on the M6.

Tributes have flooded in this week for Police Constable Nick Dumphreys, with the force’s Chief Constable Michelle Skeer describing him as “an absolute professional” who always put other people first.

He died on Sunday afternoon after his marked police car left the motorway’s southbound carriageway near Carlisle.

As protocol dictates, the tragedy will be independently investigated by another force - Lancashire Police.

In a statement, Cumbria Police said: “This investigation will entail a forensic examination of the vehicle, a BMW 330d.

“In addition to this, our force will conduct precautionary checks with similar cars on the fleet.

“This is purely a sensible precautionary measure and not based on the indication of a specific defect or fault.”

Mrs Skeer said: “Cumbria Constabulary is a family force; everyone knows everyone and he was a very popular and respected officer, who had been in the constabulary for just short of 17 years.

“He’s been described as a larger-than-life character; a big character, with a big heart. He very much put people first and always wanted to do the right thing. He loved his job in roads policing.

“We’re shocked that this has happened.

“He was responding to an emergency call-out. It’s something we do every day.”

Mrs Skeer added: “He was married to a serving officer, Kat, and they have young children, and that is even more devastating in terms of the loss.”

After the news of the tragedy spread, hundreds of people took to social media to pay tribute, with many saying they knew PC Dumphreys to be a decent, hard-working, honest officer.

Typical was this from Heather Barker: “My son-in-law says he was a lovely man. He always stopped to have a chat at the garage where he works.”

Meanwhile, more than 150 fellow roads policing officers attending a national conference in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, held a minute’s silence in PC Dumphreys’ honour as a large picture of him was projected on to a large screen.

There have also been tributes from fellow emergency services workers.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service and North West Ambulance Service staff sent cards and flowers, prompting PC Dumphreys’ roads policing colleagues to tweet: “These [flowers] have been brought in and thanks to you all as it means so much to us.

“Cumbria Fire and Rescue and North West Ambulance, we salute you.”

The officer’s family said he was a kind and loving husband and father, who loved his job and adored his children. Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall said: “Nick died in the line of duty doing the job at which he excelled.”