Our Executive

The Executive Team



Durham Constabulary is led by Chief Constable Jo Farrell and her executive team:

The team is based at force HQ in Aykley Heads, Durham, but they are all regular visitors to officers and staff in police stations throughout the force area.

They maintain close links with colleagues at the office of the Durham Police Crime Commissioner and work closely with partner agencies, including Durham County Council and Darlington Borough Council.

This helps them to have a clear understanding and appreciation of the issues affecting local communities in County Durham and Darlington, so they direct and shape an effective, responsive policing service.


Chief Constable
Jo Farrell 


Chief Constable Jo Farrell became a police officer because she wanted to make a difference and has gone on to spend her career doing exactly that.

Born on The Wirral, Jo Farrell moved to Cambridgeshire at the age of 15 when her father relocated with his job.

After a degree in Business at Sheffield Polytechnic, in 1991 she achieved her childhood ambition by joining the police as a constable in Cambridge, spending five years in the city centre before promotion.

“I was 22 when I joined the police and I absolutely loved it,” she said. “Although I don’t have any family connection with the police, I had always wanted to join and I was so proud when I first became an officer.

“As I tell all our new recruits, when we get it right, we can have such a positive impact on people’s lives – the difference that we can make is phenomenal”.

In 2002, she joined Northumbria Police, initially as a Chief Inspector, and was promoted to Assistant Chief Constable, with responsibility for response and neighbourhood policing as well as the communications department.

Jo joined Durham Constabulary in November 2016 as Deputy Chief Constable and has contributed to the force’s continued outstanding performance.

She was appointed Chief Constable of Durham in June 2019, becoming the first woman to hold the post in the force’s 180-year history.

On a national level, she works on behalf of the National Police Chiefs Council in the areas of information management, criminal justice file quality and supports the Crimestoppers charity.

She is married to a retired police officer and has two stepsons and a daughter. Away from work, Jo enjoys family life, cooking and keeping fit.

The chief constable's annual salary is £156,958.

She does not have any business interests.


Deputy Chief Constable

Dave Orford ​


After serving in the armed forces, Dave joined as a police constable at Consett. He worked as a uniform response sergeant at Peterlee, and response Inspector at Darlington prior to being posted as head of Cleveland and Durham Police Tactical Training Centre in 2003. This role lead the firearms training for both police forces, and was the first of its kind in the United Kingdom operating under a PFI initiative. Dave had previously carried out authorised firearms officer and public order officer roles as a response officer.


Dave was then promoted to be deputy head of the Force Professional Standards Department as chief inspector, and transferred to Darlington in 2005 to command all response policing over the south of County Durham and Darlington. He remained there until 2008 until promotion to be the Force Business Change Superintendent and lead on the introduction of many IT projects for the Force. He subsequently took over Force Tasking and Coordination Command on promotion to Chief Superintendent in 2011.


In 2014 Dave was successful at the Senior Police National Assessment Centre for chief officer selection, and was appointed as Assistant Chief Constable in July 2014.

Dave is very keen on mountain sports and can often be found on his mountain bike in the summer and skis in the winter.

The deputy chief constable's annual salary is £115,383.

He does not have any business interests. ​​

Assistant Chief Constable   

John Ward              


John joined Durham Constabulary in 2016 having served for 24 years with Cleveland Police. He has spent the majority of his career in investigative roles, working in CID, Major Crime, Organised Crime and the North East Regional Specialist Operations Unit. He attained Senior Investigating Officer accreditation in 2010.  


John has led on numerous complex serious crime investigations over the years including travelling abroad to work with the Portuguese Judicial Police in 2011.  He currently holds the NPCC portfolio for CrimeStoppers and is also a Strategic Firearms Commander.  He has a First Class BA Honours in Leadership and Management from Teesside University.   



Assistant Chief Officer
Gary Ridley

Assistant Chief Officer Gary Ridley has overall responsibility for finance, information technology, estates, business support and personnel.

He has a background in local government, having previously worked at Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council in the finance and chief executive’s departments, then worked as assistant treasurer at Castle Morpeth Borough Council for ten months before he joined Wear Valley Council as head of finance in 1997.

In 2001 he became strategic director of resource management at Wear Valley and was made acting chief executive in 2008 before moving to Durham in 2009.

His aim is always to ensure that the force provides an effective service which represents excellent value for money, with systems which enable us to have the right people in the right places at the right times.

The Assistant Chief Officer’s annual salary is £109,575.


 He does not have any business interests. 

Special Chief Officer
Dale Checksfield

The Special Constabulary is headed by Chief Officer Dale Checksfield.
A member of the force executive, he works closely alongside the executive, senior leadership team and partner agencies to deliver an effective Special Constabulary, supporting the needs of the communities of County Durham & Darlington

Dale joined Durham Constabulary in 2009, transferring from Northumbria Police, having served as a Special Constable in South Tyneside policing South Shields, Hebburn and Jarrow

During his career Dale has worked alongside neighbourhood and response teams in the south and west areas as well as performing road policing duties in the Cleveland & Durham Specialist Operations Unit Roads Policing Team

Promoted to temporary chief officer in December 2014 and substantive in December 2015, Dale retains an operational output alongside his leadership role and can often be found across the county supporting response, neighbourhood and roads policing using his skills as a response and pursuit trained driver to support the communities of County Durham & Darlington.

Dale is a member of the executive of the National Association of Special Constabulary Chief Officers (ASCCO) holding the national media, marketing & communications portfolio. Supporting this national role, he is a keen social media user and can be followed on his force account @durhamscchief

Dale juggles a busy family life as a father to two young daughters, with his full-time job as offshore installation manager of an oil and gas production platform in the North Sea. When he has spare time he has a passion for running half marathons, albeit not very effectively.