Mike Barton
Leadership and Culture Expert

Mike Barton

Mike Barton CBE., QPM stepped down as Chief Constable of Durham in June 2019 after a 39 year career in uniform.

Born into a Lancashire farming family the life-long Blackpool FC fan became a police constable in 1980 in the seaside town saying ‘he wanted to make a difference’. He steadily worked his way through the ranks earning a reputation along the way both as a tough detective and a forward thinking innovator.

Mike led new ways of tackling organised crime through challenging traditional ways of policing and recognising people ‘who do big bad things, do little bad things’, in this way everyone in the police family have a vital role in tackling serious and organised criminals. This distinctive approach to tackling crime with a radical mix of old-fashioned police work and new thinking resulted in Durham being recognised as the best performing police force nationally. A glance at the Inspectorate (HMICFRS) PEEL reports over the last decade will show a police force at the top of its game with an enviable slew of outstanding grades. The most repeated phrase Mike heard from visitors to Durham Constabulary was: ‘it feels different here’.

Mike challenged the creeping narrative that the public sector could only deliver less with less. Durham delivered more but did it in partnership with unlikely people, unlocking the power of communities to make their own neighbourhoods safer.

He has been one of the more public facing chief constables regularly appearing in the media and championing his force’s innovative working practices whilst being an outspoken critic of national drugs policy. He has spoken both nationally and internationally about police innovation and leadership and has coached and mentored senior executives both within the public and private sector.

Since retirement Mike has thrown himself enthusiastically into being a Grandad as well as supporting charities which deal with his passions of drug reform, reducing reoffending, restorative justice and supportive leadership. He continues in his role as coach and mentor to both students and leaders and is a visiting Professor at the Jill Dando Institute for Crime Science at University College London