Votes in the contest to become the next Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Durham had to be counted twice before Labour’s Joy Allen could be declared the victor.

Labour looked to have opened a commanding lead over the Conservatives in the contest after first preference ballots had been tallied up.

But shortly after counting of the second preference votes from the defeated Liberal Democrat candidate began, ‘discrepancies’ were found in the first batch, prompting officials to start again from scratch.

It was later revealed this had been caused by votes for the Lib Dems and Conservatives were ‘incorrectly recorded on the final return sheet’.

The do-over saw the Tories gain about 3,400 first preference votes.

Labour also benefited slightly, but party sources were increasingly confident of gaining the lion’s share of second preference votes from the Lib Dems.

And so it proved, with Labour eventually finishing with a combined total of 80,510 votes – more than 3,000 ahead of Conservative challenger George Jabbour on 77,352 – once all voted were combined.

The election saw a rise in turnout to 35.37%, compared to 17.7% in 2016.

Liberal Democrat candidate Anne-Marie Curry was knocked out after the first round of voting and her first preference ballots were redistributed between the surviving pair.

The result makes Ms Allen Durham’s third PCC since the roll was established, but only the second to be democratically elected.

Labour’s Ron Hogg, a former police officer, was the inaugural holder of the post, winning elections in 2012 and 2016, but died in December 2019 after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

The PCC office’s chief executive, former Police Federation boss Steve White, stepped into the breach on a temporary basis until elections, already scheduled for 2020, could be held.

However, the coronavirus pandemic forced polls to be postponed, leaving White to continue on an acting basis for an extra year.

Ms Allen will commence office on Thursday and will serve a three-year term.