Our Executive

The Executive Team



Durham Constabulary is led by Chief Constable Michael Barton and his 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
Michael Barton

Michael is a proud Lancastrian and adopted North Easterner who served in Lancashire Constabulary for 28 years before joining Durham Constabulary in 2008 as Assistant Chief Constable. He has been Chief Constable since 2012.


Michael has led new ways of tackling organised criminals with local beat officers and PCSOs through challenging traditional ways of policing and encouraging paradigm shifts. Durham is now recognised as a leading force in tackling serious and organised crime as well as managing offenders. A glance at the most recent HMIC PEEL inspection will show a police force at the top of its game with an enviable slew of outstanding grades. He attributes this to inspired and positive staff that have their feet on the ground and a burning desire to look after victims of crime and anti-social behaviour. The most often repeated phrase of visitors to Durham Constabulary is ‘it feels different here!’


He has long been a keen exponent of problem-orientated policing and integrated offender management, including restorative justice, and has successfully embedded these concepts in Lancashire and Durham.  Durham has been in the final five initiatives in the Herman Goldstein Awards for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing in both 2017 and 2018 with both a burglary reduction initiative and a project to safeguard vulnerable people within the community.


Michael is the National Policing Lead for Crime Operations and has used this position to ensure British Policing is in the vanguard of tackling crime on the internet.


He has attracted a degree of media attention through his advocacy for a ‘grown up’ debate on drugs – challenging the efficacy of outright prohibition.


Michael was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in the Birthday Honours list in 2014.  In 2017 he was inducted into the Evidence-Based Policing Hall of Fame and in 2018 he received the Sir Robert Peel Medal for Outstanding leadership in Evidence Based Policing.


Michael at his worst has been described as a maverick and at his best as a maverick. He has enjoyed a few scrapes and still pinches himself every morning that someone asked him to be a Chief Constable.



The Chief Constable’s annual salary is £139,890.


He does not have any business interests. ​

Deputy Chief Constable
Jo Farrell
Jo Farrell joined Northumbria Police in 2002 as a Chief Inspector, having previously served within Cambridgeshire Constabulary. In total she has 25 years policing service.

As an Assistant Chief Constable at Northumbria she had responsibility for response and neighbourhood policing as well as the communications department. She was also the force lead for mental health matters.

Her service profile within the police is extensive and varied, working predominantly within operational and neighbourhood duties.

Jo has also performed specialist public order and firearms duties, completing the Gold Commander’s course in both fields, and in January 2013 she completed the Strategic Command Course.

She has extensive experience in the strategic management of high profile events and critical incidents and took up her post as DCC in Durham in mid-November 2016.

“I was delighted to join the team at Durham. I relish the challenge of becoming the Deputy Chief Constable and will work to ensure the constabulary continues to deliver a top quality service to the communities of Durham and Darlington.”

She is married to a retired police officer and has two stepsons and a daughter. Away from work, Mrs Farrell enjoys family life, cooking and keeping fit.
The deputy chief constable's annual salary is £115,383.
She does not have any business interests. 

Assistant 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 assistant chief constable's annual salary is £111,249.


He does not have any business interests. ​​

Assistant Chief Officer
Gary Ridley
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.