AN officer who used her community links to solve an arson attack on a house has been honoured for her efforts.
PCSO Sharon Bowman gathered vital information which helped detectives trace who was behind the blaze that tore through a new £110,000 house at Eden Court, Horden, in March.
The fire caused £25,000 of damage and left the building (pictured), which was sealed up as buyers were sought, in such a state that the developer decided to tear it down.
Three youngsters were charged with arson.
The cases against a 14-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy, who had denied the charge, were later dropped.
An 11-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted the offence and was given a six-month referral order by Peterlee Youth Court in April.
PCSO Bowman, who has been in the job for two years, was nominated for the Superintendent’s Commendation by Detective Sergeant Cliff Down, in thanks for her diligent work.
She was presented her award by Paul Harrison, who recently retired but was her inspector at the time of the investigation.
She said: “When I found out about the award I felt surprised but delighted that somebody has noticed your good work.”
Among the projects PCSO Bowman is involved in on her beat is the Youth Cafe on Sunderland Road and Horden Colliery Residents’ Association, with operations to tackle a series of issues in the village in the pipeline.
Sergeant Ian Dickinson, of Peterlee Neighbourhood Policing Team, commended PCSO Bowman on her award.
He said: “We’re all very pleased for her. She did an excellent job.
“It also gives the whole team a boost because it drives us on to keep doing the good work and do our best for the public.”
The fire, on the site where the Big Club once stood, attracted a series of calls from concerned residents as plumes of smoke rose into the sky.
Investigations revealed the doors and a window had been forced open and bags of polystyrene balls were used to start the fire.