A scheme that will place highly trained nurses in police stations to carry out medical work is being launched in Co Durham.
The nurses will perform a variety of tasks currently performed by the Durham Police's medical examiners, allowing the police doctors to concentrate on specialist work.
A pilot scheme in Durham and Derwentside has proved a great success, giving the green light to the new service that will be the first of its type in the country.
Det Supt Neil Malkin said at present there are 11 forensic medical examiners in the force area.
Talks with the primary care trust have resulted in an agreement to provide a pool of nurses who can be called in by police whenever they are needed.
This pool of expertise, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, will initially feed the three areas of greatest demand - Darlington, Durham and Peterlee - but they will cover all of County Durham and Darlington.
Det Supt Malkin said. "A lot of the routine work the forensic medical examiners currently perform, such as taking blood for example, can be done by the nurses and the pilot scheme has shown it works very well."